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By THOMAS DINHAM ATKINSON; with an Introduction 

by JOHN WILLIS CLARK, M.A., F.S.A., Registrary 

of the University, Late Fellow of Trinity College 


FEB 10 ?937 




I CAN NOT claim for this volume that it represents 
the result of any great amount of original research, 
although it is the work of several years. Two works 
in particular have made the task of all later writers on 
Cambridge comparatively easy. Cooper's Annals of 
Cambridge forms the foundation of my history of the 
Town ; while my account of the University is taken, 
by the kind permission of Mr J. W. Clark, from 
Messrs Willis and Clark's Architectural History of 
the University and Colleges of Cambridge. In fact, I 
have used the latter work so extensively that I have 
refrained from citing it as my authority except in cases 
where a particular passage is quoted. All my block- 
plans of colleges have been reduced from the plans 
in the fourth volume of the same work. 

While, however, there is little in my book that is 
new to the scholar and the archaeologist, the materials 
have now been arranged for the first time so as to form 
a continuous history of the Town ; a few architectural 
descriptions have also been added. In the part relating 



to the University, complete lists of University and 
college portraits are included. Some of these lists 
have been drawn up by friends whose kindness I 
have, I hope in every case, acknowledged ; for the 
rest I am myself responsible. I have almost in- 
variably accepted the generally received title and 
attribution of a portrait, with little or no attempt at 
verification. Such attempts, even if successful, would 
have postponed almost indefinitely the completion of 
the book. I have included nothing with regard to 
the interesting examples of Plate belonging to the 
various colleges, as they already find a place in the 
recent publication Old Cambridge Plate. 

The admirable drawings of the University and 
college heraldry have been made by Messrs Walker 
and Boutall from the shields drawn by W. H. St John 
Hope, M.A. The blazoning is taken from the same 
author's Paper in the Proceedings of the Cambridge 
Antiquarian Society. The steel engravings have been 
selected from those made by Storer, and by Le Keux 
for the Memorials of Cambridge. 

I have to thank several friends who have helped 
me in various ways : Professor Hughes, Professor 
Ridgeway, Mr J. E. Foster, M.A., Mr Arthur Gray, 
M.A., Mr W. H. St John Hope, M.A., and especially 
the Reverend W. Cunningham, D.D. Mr J. E. L. 
Whitehead, M.A., Town Clerk, has most courteously 
allowed me access to documents in his custody. To 


Mr Robert Bowes my thanks are due for the warm 
interest he has shewn in every detail of the book, and 
for much assistance of many kinds. 

Throughout my work I have had the invaluable 
advantage of Mr J. W. Clark's wide knowledge and 
sound judgment. He has read the whole book both 
in manuscript and in proof, and it owes much to his 
careful revision. 

I have also to thank the Syndics of the University 
Press for the loan of several illustrations from the 
Architectural History already mentioned. 



Michaelmas, 1897. 



PREFACE. ... . . v 

INTRODUCTION .... xxiii 



Situation i. Castle 2. Name 3. Gild of Thanes 7. 
The two towns 8. 'The Borough' 9. S. Benedict's 
Church 10. 


Farm of the town 12. Gild Merchant 15. Right to 
elect a Mayor 18. Quarrels with the University 19. The 
Four-and-Twenty 22. Representation in Parliament 25. 
Maces and Seals 30. 


Local Government 35. Gilds 45. List of Gilds 57. 


The King's Ditch 61. Market Place 64. Street 
names 70. Inns and Coffee-Houses 71. Commons 79. 




Guildhall 84. Shire House 88. Gaol 92. 


The Sixteenth Century 96. The Civil War 102. 
Municipal Reform 114. 


Parish Churches 121. Nonconformists 171. Roman 
Catholics 177. Cemeteries 178. 


Barn well Priory 180. Priory of S. Radegund 184. 
Hospital of S. John 194. Stourbridge Hospital for 
Lepers 198. List of Religious Houses, Hospitals, Chapels 
and Almshouses 200. 


Other Fairs 203. Defoe's account of Stourbridge 
Fair 207. The Theatre 212. 

X MISCELLANEA . . . . . . . .214 

Perse Grammar School 214. Leys School 218. Old 
Schools of Cambridge 219. British Schools 221. Indus- 
trial School 221. Working Men's College 221. School 
of Art 223. Training College 223. Technical Institute 
224. Addenbrooke's Hospital 224. Henry Martyn Hall 
226. Railways 226. Rifle Corps 228. Public Works, 
&c. 230. Newspapers 232. Societies and Clubs 233. 
List of distinguished natives of Cambridge 235. 




XI THE UNIVERSITY ....... 241 

History 241. Social Life 254. 


Schools 270. Library and Senate-House 275. Paint- 
ings and Sculpture 288. 


Peterhouse 291. Clare 302. Pembroke 311. 


CHRISTI ........ 322 

Gonville and Caius 322. Trinity Hall 333. Corpus 
Christi 343. 



Queens' 373. S. Catharine's 386. 


Jesus 394. Christ's 406. S.John's 41 5. Magdalene 



Emmanuel 456. Sidney Sussex 465. Downing 472. 

XX SELWYN AND RIDLEY . . . . . -475 

Selwyn College 475. Ridley Hall 477. 


Girton College 479. Newnham College 482. 




Printing Press 485. Museums of Natural Science 
487. Woodwardian Museum 488. Observatory 489. 
Fitzwilliam Museum 492. Divinity School 494. Syndi- 
cate Buildings 494. Botanic Garden 495. Portraits 495. 


Union Society 499. Philosophical Society 499. Ray 
Club 500. Cambridge Camden Society 500. University 
Musical Society 501. Philological Society 501. 


GENERAL INDEX . ..... 505 


SUBJECTS -. 521 

ARTISTS . . . . . . . -527 


Engraved by 

VIEW OF CAMBRIDGE; from Castle Hill, 1841 

By Mackenzie, Le Keux. Frontispiece 

THE MARKET PLACE. Shewing its old form, 1842 p a c g e g 

By Mackenzie. Le Keux. 48 

CHURCH OF S. MARY THE GREAT. Exterior, west 

end, 1841 . . . . . By Bell. Le Keux. 148 

CHURCH OF S. MARY THE GREAT. Interior, looking 

east, shewing the throne, 1841 . By Bell. Le Keux. 152 


the south-east, shewing the old Chancel, 1830 Storer. 168 

CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY. Interior, looking 

east, shewing the old Chancel, 1830 . . . Storer. 170 

PETERHOUSE : THE CHAPEL. Exterior, west end, 

1842 ..... By Mackenzie. Le Keux. 296 


1842 ..... By Mackenzie. Le Keux. 302 


By Bell. Le Keux. 311 


HUMILITY, 1841 . . . . By Bell. Le Keux. 322 


Engraved by page 

VIRTUE. Shewing also the east end of the 
Chapel. From the Fellows' garden, 1841 

By Mackenzie. Le Keux. 328 

HONOUR. Shewing also the Senate-House, the 
University Library and King's College Chapel, 

1841 ...... By Bell. Le Keux. 332 


court of the University Library, 1831 . . Storer. 352 

KING'S COLLEGE : THE CHAPEL. Interior, looking 

east, 1841 . . . . By Mackenzie. Le Keux. 360 

KING'S COLLEGE : THE CHAPEL. Exterior, from 

the south, 1841 . . By Mackenzie. Le Keux. 368 

Shewing the Hall before its restoration, 1842 

By Mackenzie. Le Keux. 374 


also the old town bridge, 1842 . By Bell. Le Keux. 384 

Gateway and Master's Lodge before their restora- 
tion, 1842 . ... By Mackenzie. Le Keux. 400 


By Bell. Le Keux. 406 

ing east, 1840 .... By Bell. Le Keux. 415 


By Bell. Le Keux. 420 


1842 ..... By Mackenzie. Le Keux 426 


By Mackenzie. Le Keux. 435 


Engraved by page 

the Great Gate, the Chapel, King Edward's 
Gate, and the Fountain, 1838 . By Bell. Le Keux. 440 


1832 ........ Storer. 446 

TRINITY COLLEGE : THE HALL. Interior, looking 

north, 1838 . . . . . By Bell. Le Keux. 448 


By Mackenzie. Le Keux. 456 

DOWNING COLLEGE. As proposed by Wilkins. 
Shewing the proposed Chapel and Library in 
the centre, and the existing Master's Lodge and 
Hall to the right and left, 1842 By Mackenzie. Le Keux. 472 

THE FITZWILLIAM MUSEUM, 1841 By Mackenzie. Le Keux. 492 




By the Author ....... 3 


Willis and Clark . . . . . . . 1 1 


Messrs Walker and Boutall . . . . . 12 


Author, 1895 . . . . . . . 31 

The mace is of copper-gilt and is about loj inches long. 
Only a small part of the cresting round the rim of the bowl 
remains. This mace was found a few years ago buried among 
piles of papers in the Town Clerk's office. 

5. SEAL OF 1423. By the Author, from the cast of a seal 

in the British Museum . . . . . . 33 

6. FIRE HOOK, preserved in S. Benedict's Churchyard. 

By the Author ....... 39 

7. VIEW OF KING'S PARADE. By the Author, 1896 . 63 

8. PART OF HAMOND'S MAP OF 1592. From one of the 

original sheets in the possession of Mr J. E. Foster . 65 

9. THE MARKET CROSS. From Lyne's map of 1574 . 66 

10. THE WRESTLERS YARD. Now destroyed. By the 

Author, from a sketch made by him in 1884 . 73 

11. THE FALCON YARD. Now partly destroyed. By the 

Author, from a sketch made by him in 1883 . 75 

12. JOHN VEYSY'S TRADE MARK. By the Author . . 77 

The device is carved in a spandril of one of the clunch 
chimney-pieces which still remain in situ. 



13. HOUSES IN SILVER STREET. Now destroyed. By 

the Author, from a sketch made by him in 1883 . 78 


By the Author, 1896 82 

15. THE OLD GUILDHALL. From Cole's copies of plans 

drawn by Essex, probably in 1781, after the demoli- 
tion of the building had begun. MSS. Cole, Vol. 
XII. p. 151, in the British Museum . . . 83 


and Clark . . . . . . . .139 

17. THE CHURCH OF S. GILES. From a plan drawn by 

Mr Walter Bell and from old photographs . . 143 

1 8. "JESUS HELP BETON." From MSS. Cole, Vol. II. 

p. 43, in the British Museum . . . .145 


and Clark ........ 160 


By the Author, partly from old plans, 1896. . 165 


BEFORE ITS RESTORATION. From an engraving by 
William Byrne of a drawing by T. Hearne . 166 


Author . . . . . . . . .187 



HOUSE. By the Author, 1896 . . . .190 


and Clark ........ 196 


27. CHAMBER WITH STUDIES. From Willis and Clark . 257 


From Willis and Clark . . . . .258 


30. THE SCHOOLS ETC.: PLAN ABOUT 1575 . . . 272 
c. b 





By the Author, 1896 ...... 276 

This view shews one of the original windows and roof 
principals of 1400, the ceiling of 1600, and the book-cases 
of 1731. Part of a case is shewn as broken away in order that 
the original corbel for the roof principal may be seen. The 
arms are those of Jegon, and are worked in plaster in the 
south-west bay of the ceiling. 


When the east range was destroyed in 1758 the gateway 
was bought by Sir John Cotton and rebuilt as an entrance to 
the courtyard of Madingley Hall. At the same time the arch 
was given an ugly ogee form. 


1719. From the title-page of a book printed in 1735 280 

This view shews Gibbs's design for the front of the Library 
and for a building to correspond to the Senate-House. 


Author, 1897 ....... 282 




Willis and Clark . . . . . . .294 



Willis and Clark . . . . . . .298 




From an old painting. Reproduced, by permission 
of Mr J. W. Clark, from Proceedings Camb. Antiq. 
Soc. Vol. vii, /. 197 . . . . . . 304 



STATE AND ALTERATIONS. From Willis and Clark 307 



46. CLARE COLLEGE : FRONT GATE. By the Author, 1896 309 




OLD LODGE AND THE HALL. Now destroyed. 

From Willis and Clark 314 


BUILDING. From Willis and Clark . . . 317 


LODGE. Now destroyed. From Willis and Clark . 319 




SOUTH, ABOUT 1 688. AFTER LOGGAN . . . 327 


From Willis and Clark . . . . . -330 





AFTER LOGGAN. From Willis and Clark . . 337 

60. TRINITY HALL: THE LIBRARY. From Willis and Clark 338 





Willis and Clark 345 


MASTER'S LODGE. From Willis and Clark . . 346 


ABOUT 1688. AFTER LOGGAN .... 348 





OF CLARE HALL . . . 355 









1896 . . . . -377 



From Willis and Clark . . . . -379 


LODGE. INTERIOR. From Willis and Clark . 380 






Author, 1897 . . . . . . . 390 





AFTER LOGGAN. From Willis and Clark . . 399 




ABOUT 1688. AFTER LOGGAN. From Willis and 
Clark . . . . . . . . .411 




89. S. JOHN'S COLLEGE: BLOCK-PLAN . . . .417 

90. S. JOHN'S COLLEGE : THE GATEWAY. By the Author, 

from a photograph . . . . . .419 


THOMPSON'S LANE. By G. M, Brimelow, 1897 . 422 






From one of the original impressions in the possession 

of Mr J. E. Foster ...... 442 


AFTER LOGGAN ....... 445 


THE GREAT GATE. From Willis and Clark . 450 




ABOUT 1688. AFTER LOGGAN. From Willis and 
Clark , . . . . . . . .461 




WEST, ABOUT 1688. AFTER LOGGAN. From Willis 

and Clark ........ 468 



M. Brimelow, 1897 ...... 470 



Brimelow, 1897 ....... 476 




Brimelow, 1897 ....... 478 


By G. M. Brimelow, 1897 ..... 480 


Brimelow, 1897 ....... 483 


BY T. BUCK, ABOUT 1625. From Willis and Clark 486 

and Clark ........ 489 


I. CAMBRIDGE, ABOUT 1445 .... after 504 
II. CAMBRIDGE, AS AT PRESENT .... after 504 


T N the work now presented to the public an attempt has 
-* been made, almost for the first time, to deal in a single 
volume with all that is most noticeable in the Town as well 
as in the University of Cambridge. Our first idea was to 
write a mere guide-book, in which a visitor should find the 
usual information succinctly, and we hoped accurately, stated, 
with the help of numerous plans and illustrations. But, on 
second thoughts, it seemed better to deal with so interesting 
a subject in a less dry and formal manner ; to prepare, in 
short, a book which might still do duty as a guide, but which 
might be studied at a distance from Cambridge, either by an 
intending visitor, or by a student ; and which, above all, might 
bring into prominence the fact which is so often forgotten, 
that the history of the University and the history of the Town 
are really inseparable from each other. 

It has long been the fashion to imagine that the Town 
has always been a mere appanage of the University ; that it 
grew up, in fact, round the University, as the dwellings of 
retainers might nestle at the feet of a monastery or a castle. 
No notion can be farther from the truth than this ; and in 
order to clear it away, as we hope, for ever, Mr Atkinson 
has thoroughly investigated the whole history of the Town, 
and related it with what some may be disposed to consider 


too great minuteness. I think, however, that those who give 
themselves the trouble of reading this section of the book 
with care, will adopt a different view; and even those who 
are least disposed to take an interest in the affairs of the 
Town, must recognise the important bearing they have on 
a right conception of the origin of the University. 

It is impossible, as pointed out below (p. 241), to fix any 
exact date for the foundation of that institution ; and, since 
the publication of Mr Mullinger's admirable work The Uni- 
versity of Cambridge, no sane person can expect that such a 
date will ever be discovered. But it is possible to point out 
some reasons why Cambridge should have been selected as 
a convenient resort for students. In the latest work on the 
history of the Universities it is contemptuously referred to as 
"that distant marsh town," 1 but the author prudently refrains 
from any more precise definition of the locality. A little 
research would have shewn him that the nearest marsh was 
at least five miles off; and that the town, though distant, 
was still important. In these days of easy communication 
between all parts of the country it is difficult to realise that 
Cambridge, thanks to its Great Bridge, was in the early 
Middle Age the only point at which the River Cam 
could be crossed by a traveller who wished to proceed 
from the eastern counties to the midlands ; and that 
it was traversed by one of the great roads which, whether 
Roman or not, led direct from London. It possessed a 
Fair which was one of the most extensive marts of the 
Middle Ages, and must have made it, as a trading-centre, 
a place of far greater importance than it is at present; 
while, by means of the River, it drew an inexhaustible supply 
of provender and fuel from the Fens and from the port of 

1 The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages. By Hastings Rashdall, M.A. 
1895. ii. 349. 


Lynn. I can still remember the long trains of barges laden 
with coal, or heaped high with turf and sedge, which might 
be seen, on almost every day, either being towed up the 
stream, or floating down it empty. By this route too it was 
customary to send heavy merchandize, as cheaper and on the 
whole safer than by waggon along the king's highway. But, 
on the usefulness of the river, I cannot do better than quote 
a passage from The Foreigner's Companion through the Uni- 
versities of Cambridge and Oxford, written in 1748. 

The Air of Cambridge is very healthful, and the Town plentifully 
supplied with excellent Water, not only from the River and Aqueduct 
already mentioned, but from the numerous Springs on every Side of 
it, some of them Medicinal. Nor is it better supplied with Water, 
than it is with the other Necessaries of Life. The purest Wine they 
receive by the Way of Lynn : Flesh, Fish, Wild-fowl, Poultry, Butter, 
Cheese, and all Manner of Provisions, from the adjacent Country : 
Firing is cheap : Coals from Seven-pence to Nine-pence a Bushel ; 
Turf, or rather Peat, four Shillings a Thousand ; Sedge, with which 
the Bakers heat their Ovens, four Shillings per hundred Sheaves: 
These, together with Osiers, Reeds, and Rushes used in several 
Trades, are daily imported by the River Cam. Great Quantities of 
Oil, made of Flax-Seed, Cole-Seed, Hemp and other Seeds, ground 
or press'd by the numerous Mills in the Isle of Ely, are brought up 
by this River also ; and the Cakes, after the Oil is press'd out, afford 
the Farmer an excellent Manure to improve his Grounds. By the 
River also they receive 1500 or 2000 Firkins of Butter every Week, 
which is sent by Waggon to London : Besides which, great quantities 
are made in the Neighbouring Villages, for the Use of the University 
and Town, and brought in new every Morning almost. Every 
Pound of this Butter is roll'd, and drawn out to a Yard in Length, 
about the Bigness of a Walking-cane ; which is mention'd as peculiar 
to this Place. The Fields near Cambridge furnish the Town with the 
best Saffron in Europe, which sells usually from 24 to 30 Shillings a 

Further, in estimating the fitness of Cambridge as the seat 
of a University, the neighbourhood of the great monasteries of 


the Fenland must not be forgotten. Monasteries, especially 
those which obeyed the Rule of S. Benedict, sent student- 
monks regularly to the Universities during the historic 
period ; and certain colleges were founded and maintained 
by their liberality. I need not in this place do more than 
mention Durham College (now Trinity College), and Wor- 
cester College, at Oxford ; and Magdalene College at 
Cambridge. We know too, from the account-rolls of the 
monastery of Ely still preserved in the muniment-room of 
the Cathedral, that students were maintained by that House 
at Cambridge. As monasteries usually acted in concert, in 
obedience to the resolutions of a General Chapter of the 
Order to which they belonged, it is at least probable that 
other Houses, as for instance Croyland, Ramsey, Thorney, 
Peterborough, Bury S. Edmunds, would emulate the example 
of Ely, and maintain student-monks at Cambridge. Is it 
not therefore at least probable, that a similar course of action 
might have been pursued at an earlier time, and that one 
or other of the great Houses mentioned above might have 
taken the lead in selecting Cambridge as a place in which 
a miniature Paris might be established ? For, in studying 
the early history of the English Universities, it must always 
be remembered that Paris was " the Sinai of instruction " 
throughout the Middle Ages ; and students who could not 
resort to it set themselves to work to imitate it as closely 
as they could. 

We speak of the origin of a University as though we had 
merely to find out when something which has always been 
the same as it is now came into being. In doing so we 
forget that a butterfly does not differ from a chrysalis more 
completely than a modern University does from its medieval 
prototype. The present meaning of the word University is 
wholly modern. We understand it to signify "a School in 


which all the Faculties or branches of knowledge are re- 
presented " ; but in the Middle Ages it signified 

a number, a plurality, an aggregate of persons. Universitas 
vestra, in a letter addressed to a body of persons, means merely 
'the whole of you'; in a more technical sense it denotes a legal 
corporation...; in Roman Law it is for most purposes practically the 
equivalent of collegium. At the end of the twelfth and beginning of 
the thirteenth centuries, we find the word applied to corporations 
either of Masters or of students ; but it long continues to be applied 
to other corporations as well, particularly to the then newly formed 
Guilds and to the Municipalities of towns ; while as applied to 
scholastic Guilds it is at first used interchangeably with such words 
as ' Community ' or ' College.' In the earliest period it is never 
used absolutely. The phrase is always 'University of Scholars,' 
'University of Masters and Scholars,' 'University of Study,' or the 
like. It is a mere accident that the term has gradually come to be 
restricted to a particular kind of Guild or Corporation, just as the 
terms 'Convent,' 'Corps,' 'Congregation,' 'College,' have been 
similarly restricted to certain specific kinds of association. 1 

The term by which a University was denoted in the 
Middle Ages was Studium, or, in the thirteenth century, 
Sttidium Generate. This term implied three characteristics : 
(i) that the school attracted students from all parts ; (2) that 
it was a place of higher education, that is, that one of the 
higher Faculties, Theology, Law, Medicine, was taught there ; 
(3) that such subjects were taught by a considerable number 
of Masters 2 . Lastly, long established Studia of good repute, 
such as Paris or Bologna, obtained what was called the jus 
ubique docendi: in other words, one of their Masters had the 
right of teaching in all other Stttdia without any further 

It is easy to understand how the two words Universitas 
and Studium became synonymous. The teachers and the 
learners in the Studium, when incorporated under a definite 

. J Rashdall, ut supra, \. 7. 2 Ibid. p. 9. 


constitution, would naturally be addressed, in their corporate 
capacity, as Universitas, the whole of you ; and thus gradually 
the term which was intended to apply to persons changed its 
signification and denoted the place. 

Let us try, by a slight exercise of the imagination, to 
transport ourselves to that remote period, some eight centuries 
ago, when what we call a University began in this place. In 
every monastery there was a Master of the Novices ; and in 
every Cathedral School there was a Master who taught the 
scholars. Conceive such a person on his travels for, thanks 
to the abundance of monasteries, travelling was as easy in 
the Middle Ages as at the present day and coming to 
Cambridge at a time when the town was full of strangers 
attracted by the Great Fair, Not unwilling to turn an honest 
penny, he offers a course of lectures ; they find ready listeners; 
and when they are over, he is entreated to come back next 
year himself, or to send a substitute. And so the instruction, 
begun at haphazard, goes on ; a room is hired ; perhaps a 
teacher from Paris occupies the lecturer's chair; the hearers 
increase in number ; the neighbouring monasteries, always 
ready to take up a popular movement, associate themselves 
with the desire for a wider instruction than their own schools 
can provide. The work, begun as a temporary expedient, 
becomes permanent ; one teacher is no longer sufficient for 
the crowd of learners. A second and a third are engaged 
to assist the first, and to work under his direction. Gradually, 
out of this directing teacher, a permanent official is evolved 
who, in later times, is spoken of as the Rector (i.e. the guiding 
teacher) or eventually as the Chancellor. Finally, some of the 
local scholars become themselves sufficiently well-informed to 
act as teachers ; separate lines of study are entered upon, or, 
as we should now say, the body specialises in some particular 
direction ; gradually an organisation of the usual type is 


arrived at ; the place gains reputation as a Studium, and the 
little body of volunteers is saluted as Universitas vestra. 

This rough outline of what I conceive to have taken place 
is borne out by the known history of the University Buildings. 
A plot of ground was not given to the University for building 
on until 1278 (p. 271), but we know that before that time the 
teachers of the day made use of certain houses on or near the 
site of what is now the Library. The names of some of these 
Schools, as they were called, have survived, as, ' School of S. 
Margaret/ ' Gramerscole,' ' Artscole,' ' Law School,' ' Theology 
School.' Each was probably the lecture-room of a teacher. 
These teachers were called indifferently Master, Professor, 
Doctor terms which were absolutely synonymous 1 . A 
Bachelor, in our modern sense, did not exist in the Middle 
Ages. "Bachelorship," says Mr Mullinger, "did not imply 
admission to a degree, but simply the termination of the 
state of pupildom : the idea involved in the term being, that 
though no longer a schoolboy, he was still not of sufficient 
standing to be entrusted with the care of others." 2 

Student-life in the Middle Ages has been treated of with 
much thoroughness and ability by Mr Mullinger, and since he 
wrote, by Mr Rashdall. To their pages we must refer those 
who desire fuller information than we have been able to give 
below (Chapter XL). The subject is full of interest, but the 
materials are provokingly scanty ; and even when they have 
been thoroughly mastered, the result is to a certain extent 
fragmentary and disappointing. 

When we try to form an idea of what the medieval 
undergraduate was like, we must begin by forgetting his 
modern descendant. The medieval student was little better 
than a boy probably not more than thirteen or fourteen 
years old. He must have had a certain preliminary education, 

1 Rashdall, ut supra, p. 21. 2 Mullinger, ut supra, p. 352. 


not merely in reading, writing, and grammar, but in Latin, 
for lectures were given in that language. In the early days 
of the University he enjoyed complete liberty from all 
discipline and control ; for before Hostels were instituted, or 
at any rate before they were placed under the control of a 
Master, the 'clerks/ as they were sometimes called, lived 
where they pleased, and as they pleased, with but little 
danger of interference from anybody. Human life was not 
specially valuable in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and 
even a homicide or a murder seems to have been treated as a 
trifling indiscretion which the Town had better leave to the 
University ; and which the University dealt with as a matter 
which should be hushed up rather than punished. 

With the establishment of Hostels a new era must have 
set in ; and it is to be regretted that we know so little about 
these institutions. Of one only at Cambridge, namely, 
Physwick Hostel, have we any detailed account. This, 
translated from Dr Caius' History, I proceed to transcribe : 

Physwick Hostel, situated opposite to the north side of Gonevile 
and Caius College, from which it was separated by a road, now forms 
part of Trinity College. It was not let out to hire, as the other 
hostels were, but was the private property of Gonevile and Caius 
College. It was afterwards converted into a hostel (hospitiuni) or 
rather into a tiny (pusillutn) College, into which, as into a colony, 
they could banish the too great abundance of their younger members. 
To provide for their management and instruction they set over it two 
Principals, called respectively External and Internal, of whom the 
former resided in the College, the latter in the Hostel. The former 
was a Fellow of the College chosen by the master; the latter was 
elected by the ' commensales ' of the Hostel and the Exterior 
Principal conjointly. Both of them lectured in the Hostel and 
presided as moderators at the exercises of the students, for which 
they received and divided between them 16 pence quarterly from 
each resident in the Hostel. The like sums were paid to the 
Exterior Principal for chamber rent, but applied to the use of the 
College. In those days more than thirty or forty ' commensales ' 


resided in that Hostel. It stood and flourished for many years, and 
put forth many eminent and learned men, of whom some were 
selected for College honors, and became resident therein, others 
were called away to fill offices of state '. 

With this may be compared the account which Mr 
Rashdall gives of the College of Spain at Bologna, derived 
from the Statutes as revised in 1377. 

The College shall consist of thirty scholars eight in Theology, 
eighteen in Canon Law, and four in Medicine. The scholars held 
their places for seven years, except in the case of a Theologian or 
Medical student who wished to stay up and lecture as a Doctor... 
The qualification for election was poverty, and competent grounding, 
' at least in Grammar.' In the case of the Theologians and Medical 
students, Logic was also required, and if they had not heard Philosophy 
before, their first three years of residence were to be devoted mainly 
to that Faculty. An entrance examination was held, and the College 
was at liberty to reject nominees who failed to satisfy these require- 
ments. Every scholar received daily a pound of moderate beef or 
veal or other good meat with some ' competent dish,' the larger part 
at dinner, the smaller at supper. Wine, salt, and bread were at 
discretion ; but the wine was to be watered in accordance with the 
Rector's orders. A portion of the allowance for meat might be 
applied by the Rector to the purchase of salt meat or fruit. We may 
charitably hope that the College availed itself of this provision on 
Feast-days and on the Sunday before Lent, when the above men- 
tioned ' portions ' of meat were doubled. On Fast-days the ordinary 
allowance was to be spent on fish and eggs. At a ' congruous time ' 
(not further defined) after dinner and supper respectively, the 
College re-assembled for ' collation,' when drink was ' competently ' 
administered to every one. Besides commons, each scholar received 
every autumn a new scholastic ' cappa, sufficiently furred with sheep- 
skin,' and another without fur, and with a hood of the same stuff 
and colour as the cope, at the beginning of May ; and there was an 
annual allowance of twelve Bologna pounds for candles, breeches, 
shoes, and other necessaries 2 . 

It is probable that only a few of the students who matricu- 
lated remained at Cambridge long enough to take the Master's 

1 Willis and Clark, ii. 417. - Rashdall, ut supra, i. 200. 


degree. In fact, unless they proposed to become teachers of 
others in their turn, such a degree would have been useless to 
them. Most students probably left as soon as they had got 
as much knowledge as they wanted, or as they could afford 
to pay for. The details of the educational course, and the 
changes through which it has passed what has survived of 
medieval practice and what has perished need not be 
discussed here. The subject is too wide and too technical for 
such a work as this. It belongs to the Archaeology of 
Education rather than to the History of Cambridge. Those 
who wish to enter into it fully should consult the works 
already mentioned, or Mr Rouse Ball's History of the Study 
of Mathematics at Cambridge. 

The Colleges, as explained below (p. 243), were intended 
at first for teachers rather than for learners. The notable 
exception was King's Hall (now absorbed in Trinity College) 
which was founded in 1337 by King Edward the Third, for 
thirty-two scholars, each of whom was to be at least fourteen 
years old, and of sufficient proficiency in grammar to study 
logic or any other faculty which the warden might, after 
examination, select for him. There can be no doubt, 
therefore, that the inmates of this House were to be what we 
now call undergraduates. But in the rest of our collegiate 
foundations this was not the case, at least at first. The class 
of " pensioners," namely, those who were willing to pay a 
fixed sum (pensio) for their board and lodging, did not make 
its appearance for two centuries or so after the promulgation 
of the Statutes of Merton College, Oxford the Regula de 
Merton, as it was called by which the College system was 
inaugurated. When the pensioners became numerous the 
need for further accommodation within the College precincts 
was felt ; ranges of chambers were built, and the Hostels 
were either absorbed or deserted. 


It is probable that most persons, when they enter one of 
our stately quadrangles, imagine that they have before them 
a structure erected within a few years on a definite plan, 
conceived from the beginning, and handed to the Founder by 
some distinguished architect, as happens now-a-days when a 
new College comes into being. Nothing can be farther from 
the truth than this very natural view. A unity of plan may un- 
questionably be discovered in our College courts ; but it was not 
thought of until long after the foundation of the earlier ones. 

The Collegiate system was a new invention in 1264. 
Nobody could foresee whether it would be a success or a 
failure ; and therefore nobody not even the Founder of it 
committed himself to a large and costly range of buildings. 
As Professor Willis has well remarked : 

The buildings required in the earliest colleges were very simple, 
consisting of little else than chambers to lodge the inhabitants, a 
refectory or hall, and a kitchen with its offices to prepare their food. 
Their devotions were performed in the parish church, their books 
were kept in a chest in the strong-room, and the master, in the 
majority of them, occupied an ordinary chamber, so that the chapel, 
the library, the master's lodge, and the stately gateways, which 
supply so many distinctive features in the later colleges, were wholly 
wanting in the earlier ones ; and it is very interesting to watch them 
taking their place in succession in the quadrangles. The attempt to 
erect a quadrangle on a settled plan, containing the chambers and 
official buildings disposed in order round about the area, in which 
form all these early colleges now present themselves, was not made 
till long after their establishment. For, in fact, until the collegiate 
system had fairly stood the test of a long trial, it was hardly possible 
to determine what arrangement of buildings would be best adapted 
for its practical working, while the continual growth and improvement 
of the system in each successive foundation demanded enlargements 
and changes. At both Universities the inhabitants of the earliest 
colleges were in most cases lodged at first in houses already in 
existence, purchased by the founder together with the ground on 
which they stood 1 . 

1 Willis and Clark, ut supra, iii. 248. 

c. c 


For example, at Peterhouse (p. 293), our earliest college, 
the scholars were lodged for about 130 years in the dwelling- 
houses (hospicia) which Bishop Hugh de Balsham found 
standing on the site. The College was founded in 1284, the 
Hall was built in 1290, and probably a Kitchen and Buttery 
at the same time, or soon afterwards. But the quadrangle 
was not begun till 1424, by erecting the range of chambers on 
the north side, next to the churchyard of S. Mary the Less ; 
and nearly forty years passed by before it was completed. 
At Clare Hall both Richard de Badew and the Lady Clare 
used buildings which they found on the site ; and the 
quadrangular form (p. 304) was not completely adopted until 
after the fire of 1521 \ At Pembroke, founded 1346 (p. 312), 
the scholars were at first lodged in houses standing on the 
site ; but the quadrangle was unquestionably erected not long 
afterwards, and is remarkable as the first at Cambridge in the 
plan of which a chapel was included. At Gonville Hall, 
when it was moved to its present position in 1353, the 
scholars were lodged in houses on the north border of the 
site. The chapel was built in 1393 ; the hall in 1441 ; but 
the east side, completing the quadrangle, in 1490, or 140 
years after the removal 2 . At Trinity Hall the founder built 
the Hall and the range next the street. The north range 
was added soon afterwards (in 1374), but the chapel was not 
built until near the end of the following century. At Corpus 
Christi, on the other hand, the whole quadrangle (of the older 
College) was built between 1352 and 1377. It consisted of 
three ranges of chambers, on the east, north, and west sides, 
and of a hall and kitchen on the south side. No chapel was 
intended, and indeed, would have been needless, having 
regard to the close proximity of S. Bene't's Church, and the 
fact that the College had been founded by Townsmen, whose 

1 Willis and Clark, ut supra, p. 254. ' 2 Ibid. p. 255. 


beneficiaries would not clash with their fellow-townsmen 
when they met at church. The buildings of this House have 
been but little altered, and give an excellent idea of the 
primitive appearance of a small medieval college. 

With the foundations noticed above the medieval period 
of the Cambridge Colleges may be said to close. It was 
not until nearly a century afterwards (in 1446) that Queens' 
College was founded ; and by the time that that event took 
place the collegiate system had become an assured success. 
It was possible, therefore, to adopt a definite plan for the new 

In this plan (p. 376) the court is entered through a gate- 
way with four turrets placed near the centre of the side next 
the street. The treasury or muniment-room is on the first 
floor over the gate. The chapel is on the north side of the 
court, with the library westward of it on the first floor. The 
east side of the court to the right and the left of the gate, and 
the whole of the south side, are occupied by chambers. The 
west side contains, in the following order, from north to 
south, the kitchen, the butteries and pantry, the through- 
passage to the grounds beyond, the hall, and the parlour 
or combination-room, over which is the Master's lodging, 
approached by a separate staircase on the west side. There 
is now a second court, between the first court and the river. 
It contains on the west side a building apparently coeval 
with the first court ; and on the north side a gallery, forming 
part of the Master's lodging, built subsequent to the western 
building and to the cloister on which it is supported. 

Now where did this plan come from ? We have seen it 
already at Pembroke College (p. 313), and at Clare Hall; 
but when it appears at Queens' College it meets with more 
dignified treatment, so to speak ; and is subsequently re- 
produced at Christ's College and at S. John's College. 


The entrance-gateway, a feature peculiar to the archi- 
tecture of Cambridge, was first seen at King's Hall in 1426. 
The gate then erected may still be seen, moved from its 
original position, and somewhat mutilated in the journey, 
against the west wall of Trinity College Chapel. It was 
evidently much admired when first built, and was copied at 
the colleges of King's (in its first position), Queens', Christ's, 
S. John's, and even at King's Hall itself, the second gateway 
of which (built 1535), is now the principal entrance to 
Trinity College. Such gateways would also have been em- 
ployed again by King Henry the Sixth, had his marvellous 
design for his enlarged college ever been completed. Un- 
fortunately we do not know whose ingenuity we ought to 
thank for this brilliant innovation. The medieval system of 
architecture, where the artist was merged in the constructor, 
is singularly destructive of individual reputation. 

The origin of the general disposition of the collegiate plan 
can be more easily traced. As Professor Willis was fond of 
shewing, it is derived directly from the mansions of the 
nobility, by whom in the I4th century the severity and 
gloom of the castles was being gradually discarded, and 
replaced by the quadrangular country-houses, some examples 
of which still survive. The plan which most nearly ap- 
proaches that of Queens' College is that of Haddon Hall. 
Indeed Professor Willis used to say that he was almost afraid 
of shewing them together, because he felt sure that his 
audience would say that he had " cooked " them. 

It is curious that the monasteries should have contributed 
so little to the organisation of the colleges. It might have 
been reasonably expected that a body of celibate persons, 
like the society of a college, would have borrowed its 
organisation from the Monastic Orders, one of which, that of 
S. Benedict, could point to some seven centuries of successful 


existence before the Rule of Merton was so much as thought 
of. But this was not the case. The whole collegiate system 
was intended to counteract monastic influence ; and to 
provide education which monks should not direct, and by 
which they should not benefit. There was no objection to 
their attendance at lectures, or to their taking a University 
degree ; but the colleges were closed to them. Si quis 
\scholarium~\ in religionem intraverit cesset omnino in eius 
persona exhibitio prczdicta, says Walter de Merton 1 . In 
consequence, except in certain technical matters, as for 
instance the Library, collegiate statutes are not borrowed 
from monastic rules or customs ; and the same separation 
between the two bodies would seem to extend to the 
buildings. The distinctive features of monastic life, the 
cloister, and the dormitory in which all the members of the 
community slept together, are absent from collegiate archi- 
tecture ; and the whole arrangement, as mentioned above, is 
a deliberate copy of a plan arranged for the secular as 
opposed to the religious life. 


26 July, 1897. 

1 Statutes, 1274, Chap. 14. Commiss. Doc. (Oxford), i. 27. 




The frontier of the Iceni. Defensive works across the pass ; Cambridge 
Castle. The Romans. The name Cambridge. The Saxons. The 
Danes. Condition of the town before the Conquest ; the Gild of 
Thanes. Growth ; probably from the union of two towns ; 
S. Benedict's Church. 

IN early times the eastern part of Britain, held by the large 
and powerful tribe of the Iceni, was separated from the rest of 
the island by a natural barrier extending from the Wash 
to the Thames, a distance of about eighty miles. The 
northern half of this barrier was formed by the Fens, the 
southern part by forest These two almost impassable ob- 
stacles were nearly continuous but not entirely so, for between 
them there was an interval consisting partly of open pasture 
land, partly of chalk downs. 1 In this interval, and on the 
margin of the fen, lies the town of Cambridge (fig. I, p. 3). The 
only approach to the country of the Iceni the East Anglia 
of later times was along the road known as the Icknield (or 
Icenhilde) Way, which traversed the above-mentioned interval, 
and ran over the chalk downs between the forest and fen in a 
north-easterly direction through Ickleford, Royston, Ickleton, 

1 The limits of the fen can easily be the change from forest to bare open 

traced ; the edge of the forest roughly country perhaps determined the present 

coincided with, and was no doubt de- boundaries between the counties of 

termined by the edge of the boulder Cambridge and Essex, and Cambridge 

clay which forms the soil of Essex; and Suffolk. 


Newmarket and Icklingham. The pass which at its narrow- 
est point was not more than five miles wide was defended by 
a remarkable series of British earthworks which cross it at 
right angles. These ditches, extending from fen or marshy 
land to a wooded country, and crossing the narrow open 
district which lay between, probably formed the best defence 
that could have been devised against the chariots which 
played so important a part in primitive warfare, and against 
the cattle-lifting which was so frequently its object. 

These earthworks are nearly parallel to one another and 
run in a north-westerly and south-easterly direction. Each 
consists of a bank and a ditch. The ditch is in most cases on 
the south-west side of the bank, a position which shews that 
the defence must have been made by the people on the east 
against those on the west. 1 Where the ditch is to the 
north-east the works are probably due to the people of the 
west. As now one tribe, now the other was the stronger, 
each would advance its boundary and throw up a line of 
defence with the ditch on the farther side. 2 

The whole of the southern part of the present county, 
therefore, was, in British times, the frontier district of the 
Iceni. Though crossed by valleys giving good pasture, and 
bordering on the fen-land where fish and fowl were abundant, 
its exposure to raid and warfare must have checked any per- 
manent settlement or continuous prosperity. At Cambridge 
itself the ancient earthwork known as Castle Hill may belong 
to the British period, but on this point authorities are divided. 

1 See a paper by Professor Ridge- The bank is 1 8 feet above the level of 

way (Proc. Camb. Antiq. Soc. vn. 200) the country, 30 feet above the bottom 

in which the author shews that the of the ditch and 1 2 feet in width at the 

defeat of the Iceni by the Romans top ; the ditch is 20 feet wide. These 

under P. Ostorius Scapula in A.D. 50 measurements are exceeded in some 

as described by Tacitus (Annales, xn. parts. 

31) may, with great probability, be - The so-called 'Roman Road' is 

referred to the neighbourhood of one considered by Professor Hughes to be 

of these dykes, probably either the not a road but one of these dykes 

Devil's Ditch or the Fleam Dyke. (Cambridge Review, 6 May, 1885). 
The former is about eight miles long. 


Hitherto the Castle has been generally accepted as British, 
while, some maintain that it is at least as likely to be Saxon, 

Scale of Miles 

ll'alker GrBoiitaUsc. 


The vertical shading indicates Fen, the diagonal shading Boulder Clay. 

but the evidence on either side is far from conclusive. In 
British times it lay on a tribal frontier line, and a frontier 


town in those times was probably not the important place 
it became at a later period. The existence of the great 
Dykes suggests reliance on them as a defence rather than on 
a border fortress. It may be argued, therefore, that the 
situation would tell against, rather than in favour of its 
choice as a military position. On the other hand, the Castle 
Hill may have formed a useful auxiliary to the dykes in 
defending a ford. 

The same uncertainty exists as to the character of the 
Roman settlement. While the whole district is thickly 
strewn with remains shewing that it was extensively occupied 
by the Romans, there is still no proof that they established 
at Cambridge a camp or station, 1 or that there was here a 
town of importance. The commonly accepted identification 
of Cambridge with the Camboritum of the Romans appears 
to rest on no surer ground than a resemblance between the 
two names, and this resemblance is an illusion. The form 
Camboritum is of the fourth century, whilst Cambridge is not 
earlier than I4OO. 2 

The name of the town was Grantanbrycge in A.D. 875 and 
in Domesday Book it is Grentebrige. About 1142, we first 
meet with the violent change to Cantebruggescir (for the 
county), the change from Gr- to C- being due to the 
Normans. This form " lasted, with slight changes, down to 
the fifteenth century. Grauntbrigge (also spelt Cauntbrigge in 
the name of the same person) survived as a surname till 1401. 
After 1142 the form Cantebrigge is common; it occurs in 
Chaucer as a word of four syllables, and was Latinised as 
Cantabrigia in the thirteenth century... Then the former e 
dropped out ; and we come to such forms as Cantbrigge and 
Cauntbrigge (fourteenth century) ; then Cdnbrigge (1436), and 
Cawnbrege (1461) with n. Then the b turned the n into m, 
giving Cambrigge (after 1400) and Caumbrege (1458). The 

1 Professor Hughes, C. A. S. vm. logical Society, 23 Jan. 1896 (Cam- 
-205, and Camb. Rev., 20 May, 1885. bridge University Reporter, n Feb. 

2 Professor Skeat, Cambridge Philo- 1896). 


long a formerly aa in baa, but now ei in vein, was never 
shortened." 1 The old name of the river, Granta, still sur- 
vives. Cant occurs in 1372* and le Ee and le Ree in the 
fifteenth century. In the sixteenth century the river is 
spoken of as " the Canta, now called the Rhee" 2 and later we 
find both Granta and the Latinised form Camus.* Cam, 
which appears in Speed's map of 1610, was suggested by the 
written form Cam-bridge, and " is a product of the sixteenth 
century, having no connection with the Welsh cam, or the 
British cambos, crooked." 4 

To return to the Castle Hill. The remains of a fosse and 
vallum which appear to have formed part of a parallelogram 5 
have always been accepted as Roman, and the straight roads 
which converge on this point would certainly appear to bear 
out the theory. But, however this may be, there is ample 
proof that the site was occupied by the Romans, or Romano- 
British, and after them by the Saxons. It is to the Saxon 
period that the construction of the Castle Hill is attributed 
by Professor Hughes, who considers it a thoroughly charac- 
teristic English Burh. He thinks that most probably it was 
constructed in the ninth century as a defence against the 
incursions of the Danes ; 6 and during that and the following 
century Cambridge is said to have been sacked by them 
more than once. The last occasion was after the battle of 
Ringmere, near Ipswich. In that great fight the East 
Anglians were defeated and all fled "save only the men of 
Cambridgeshire, who stood their ground and fought valiantly 
to the last." After the battle, the conquerors advanced and 
reduced Thetford and Cambridge to ashes. 7 

The Danes, however, have left but little evidence of 

1 Skeat, ut supra. breastworks thrown up by Cromwell. 

2 Dr Caius' History, 1573, quoted 6 The whole question of the age of 
by Willis and Clark, it. viii. these earthworks is discussed by Pro- 

3 Camden, 1586. fessor Hughes in Proc. Camb. Antiq. 
* Skeat, ut supra. Soc. Vol. vin. (1893), 173. 

6 But we must be careful not to 7 Freeman, Conquest of England, 

confound these with the remains of the (2nd ed.) I. 344. 


settlement in the immediate neighbourhood, if we judge by 
the place-names in the locality. By far the greater number 
are purely Saxon. Some few may have a British origin, but 
the Danish names which cover the map of Norfolk and 
Suffolk almost cease on the borders of Cambridgeshire. 
With the amalgamation of conquerors and conquered, how- 
ever, comes the dawn of definite history. "It is from the 
time of the Danes that we may trace the beginnings of our 
towns. The towns were indeed little better than more 
thickly-populated villages, and most of the people lived by 
agriculture ; but still the more populous places may be 
regarded as towns, since they were centres of regular trade. 
The Danes and Northmen were the leading merchants, and 
hence it was under Danish and Norse influences that the 
villages were planted at centres suitable for commerce, or 
that well-placed villages received a new development." 1 

It is with this new chapter in the national history that 
Cambridge emerges from obscurity. Eminently a well-placed 
village, it was one of the first to develop into an English 
town. Under new conditions which allowed advantage to be 
taken of its excellent situation as a commercial town, it 
begins to rise into a place of importance. Its position at 
the head of a waterway communicating with the sea, is a 
factor in the history of Cambridge the importance of which 
it is hardly possible to exaggerate. The river was " the life 
of the trarficke to this Towne and Countie." 2 In direct 
communication with the Continent by means of the river, and 
on the only or almost the only line of traffic between East 
Anglia and the rest of England, Cambridge became an 
important distributing centre, and the seat of one of the 
largest fairs in Europe, for it was probably at this early 
period that the fame of Stourbridge Fair began to spread and 
to bring prosperity to the town. This early commercial 
reputation is now forgotten. Trade has been diverted into 

1 Cunningham, The Gr<nvth of Eng- 2 Address to King James I., 1614-15 

lish Industry and Commerce, I. 88. (Cooper, Annals, in. 70). 


other channels, the great fair has declined, and the renown of 
the schools has eclipsed the older fame of the town. But 
none the less Cambridge probably owes her trade, her fair, 
her schools, and her very existence to the sluggish little river 
that connects her with the port of Lynn. 

Much direct evidence as to the condition or importance of 
Grantbrycge in the ninth and tenth centuries will not be 
expected. Coins were struck here by King Edward the 
Martyr in 979, and by more than one of his successors in 
the following century. Early in the eleventh century it was 
governed by its twelve lawmen or ' lagemanni,' 1 its Thanes 
had formed themselves into a Gild, and comparing it with 
other towns at the time of Domesday Survey, it is said to 
have had a "fairly advanced municipal life." 2 

The Gild of Thanes of Cambridge had some points in 
common with other Anglo-Saxon Gilds whose ordinances are 
extant. 3 It gave help to members in distress, and the 
brethren attended the funeral of any one of their number who 
died. If a brother lay ill at a distance from home, the other 
members went to fetch him, and they did the like if he died. 
For neglect to attend on these and similar occasions, a 
member was fined a measure of honey. But the Cambridge 
Gild differs in one important respect from others of this 
period. It made elaborate rules for compensation in case of 
assault or murder. If a retainer \cnihf\ drew his weapon 
upon any one, his lord \Jilaf ord\ had to pay i, and to get 
what he could out of his man, the Gild helping him. If any 
one killed a gild-brother he had to pay 8, or if he refused 
the whole Gild would be avenged on him. If a gild-brother 
killed a man accidentally, each gild-brother subscribed to 
compensate the dead man's relations at the following rates : 
if the slain were a man holding twelve hides of land each 

1 Stubbs, Comt. Hist. I. 100, 102. Abbotsbury, Woodbury, and Exeter, 

2 Cunningham, I. 3, 83, 88. and the Association of Bishop Wulfstan 

3 The other Anglo-Saxon Gilds of and his comrades, 
which we have record are those of 


subscribed half a mark ; if he were a ceorl each gave two 
oras; if he were a Welshman \_Wylisc, a foreigner, a man of 
another town or district 1 ] each gave one ora. A gild- 
brother who killed any one with guile had to bear the 
consequences, and any gild-brother who did eat or drink 
with the murderer had to pay 1 unless he could call his 
two bench-comrades to witness that he knew him not. Every 
member had to take an oath of fidelity to the Gild. A fine 
of a measure of honey was imposed on a brother who insulted 
another, and in case of dispute, the society would support 
him who had most right 2 Such is the general tenor of the 
laws ; by what means they were enforced on those who were 
not members of the Gild we do not know. 

Of the situation of the town and of the manner of its 
growth we must now say a few words. 

We have seen that a settlement existed on the west bank 
of the river at a very early period. Whatever the date of the 
stronghold round which it clustered, it is, at all events, earlier 
than anything now existing on the east side. The origin and 
growth of this east quarter, now much the largest, still remains 
to be explained. It has been supposed by some that the old 
town on the west bank gradually spread across the river, but 
it seems to be more probable that an independent village on 
the east bank gradually stretched towards the other until the 
two joined, and the very fact that they had been two was 
forgotten. The existence of a community on the east side 
of the river before the Conquest seems to be proved by the 
style of S. Benedict's Church, the early parts of which are very 
characteristic of pre-Norman architecture. The situation of 
S. Benedict's Church so far from the Castle end of the town 
probably indicates a separate village rather than one con- 

1 But possibly referring to the rem- A transcript and translation in parallel 
nants of the British population which columns are given by Thorpe in Diplo- 
lingered in the fens. matarium Anglicum sEvi Saxonici, 

2 Translations are given by Kemble 61. In the latter no attempt is made to 
in The Saxons in England, i. 513, and translate one or two of the most obscure 
by Cooper in A nnals of Cambridge, 1.15. passages. 

tinuous town. Domesday Book records that at the time of 
the Survey and in the days of the Confessor the town was 
divided into ten wards, and it appears probable, from the 
known position of some of those wards, that all were situated 
near the Castle and on the west bank of the river, 1 and that 
such settlement as existed on the east side was not considered 
as part of the town. Castle End was called ' the Borough ' 
within the memory of persons still living. 2 

On the other hand the east part, round S. Benedict's 
Church, has not, in historic times, been distinguished by a 
separate name. The old name of Free School Lane, Lort- 
burgh 3 Lane, is the only name that has been preserved 
which can be thought to suggest a separate village, but this 
is more probably a personal name. 

If the old town had gradually spread across the river we 
should expect the quarter near the bridge to shew some signs 
of being older than the other parts of the town. But this is 
not what we find. Neither the oldest buildings, nor the 
markets, nor the hithes are near the Great Bridge. Of the 
hithes, one the only quay that survives did certainly adjoin 
the bridge, but its complete separation from all the others 

1 It is stated that Ward I. was to. We see, then, that Wards I., II. and 

reckoned as two in the days of King VI. and perhaps Ward IV. were close 

Edward, but that twenty-seven houses together and near the Castle. As the 

had been destroyed to make room for numbering of the wards would presum- 

the castle which the Conqueror had ably be made with reference to their 

built. No account is given of Ward situation the inference is that the 

VI. It appears that the twenty-seven other wards were also on the west bank 

houses that had been pulled down were of the river. 

in Ward VI., and that the remainder 2 'The Borough boys' is a nick- 
were henceforth reckoned with Ward I. name still remembered as being applied 
(Bryan Walker, Camb. Antiq. Soc. to the men of the Castle End by the 
Communications, Vol. V.). Hence we dwellers on the east side of the river, 
may conclude that Wards I. and VI. A public house with the sign of "The 
adjoined one another. We are also Borough Boy" still stands in North- 
informed in Inquisitio Eliensis (507) ampton Street. 

that Ward II. was called Brugeward, 3 There are a great variety of 

i.e. Bridge-ward, and that there was a spellings of this name : Lurteburghlane, 

church in Ward IV. From the charac- Lorteburghlanestrate,Lurtheburnestrate, 

ter of the earliest work in old S. Giles' and many others. 
Church, it might be the one referred 


rather strengthens the theory of amalgamation than other- 
wise. In the Middle Ages the greater number of the hithes 
were between the Hospital of S. John (now S. John's College) 
and the house of the Carmelites (now part of Queens' 
College). The part immediately to the east of the bridge 
indeed seems to have remained unoccupied till a later period 
than other parts. The Hospital of S. John was placed on a 
large area which was described, early in the twelfth century, 
as waste ground. The Jewry lay between the old Church of 
All Saints and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a fact 
which alone almost proves that that site was, at the time of 
the settlement of the Jews, a suburban district lying between 
the two towns. The part between the Jewry and the river is 
laid out with a regularity not observable in other parts of the 
town ; this suggests a comparatively late settlement. 

Other indications point to the same conclusion. The 
more modern eastern half of the town contains the markets, 
with the Tolbooth, or Town Hall. Considering how fixed such 
things were in the Middle Ages, it is more probable that they 
still occupy their original sites than that they were moved 
from the Castle End. The fact that this quarter was enclosed 
by a ditch, apparently for the first time in 1215, seems to 
shew that it was at that time a comparatively new town. 1 
Each of these indications considered by itself is slight, and 
perhaps they are not very convincing when all taken together, 
but they must be given and accepted for what they are worth. 

If the existence of a separate village on the east side of 
the river be allowed, it is natural to connect it with S. Bene- 
dict's Church. This building is clearly pre-Norman, and ex- 
hibits a strongly marked contrast to those buildings which 
are known to have been built by the Normans, as for instance, 
the Churches of S. Peter and S. Sepulchre. 

This church, then, probably served a township separate 
and distinct from that on the west bank of the river, and 
situated on a level headland more convenient for trade and 

1 Rotnli Litlerarum Claitsarutn (Hardy, 234 b.). 



especially for a trade requiring wharves. Houses then sprang 
up along the roads leading to the bridge and to Barnwell, 
leaving the spaces between them unoccupied save as gardens. 
And when the two villages did become united they seem to 


have formed a straggling incompact town, with some of its 
parishes stretching far out into the country, a long way 
beyond the ditch which King John caused to be made for its 




Cambridge a town in royal demesne. Grant of farm of town to bur- 
gesses. Monopoly of river trade and jurisdiction of town, about 
1118. Farm raised from ^45 to ^60, 1190. Charter granting a 
Gild Merchant and jurisdiction in civil cases, 1200-1 ; the Gild 
Merchant. The right to elect a Provost, 1207. Election of coroners, 
1256. The University ; disputes with town, riots. Charter to 
University, 1267-8. Petition for leave to hold property, 1330. 
Town records. The Four-and-Twenty. Burgesses in Parliament, 
1295. Attack on University, 1381. Loss of some franchises. 
Maces. Seal. 

THE first and perhaps the most important consideration in 
the municipal history which we propose to sketch in the 
present chapter is the fact that Cambridge was a town in 
ancient or royal demesne. In other words, the jurisdiction 
was vested in the king himself, not in any other lord. The 
history of English towns is chiefly the history of a long 
struggle on the part of the burgesses to get the jurisdiction 


into their own hands, and this struggle was generally longer 
and more severe, and, it must be confessed, to us more 
interesting, in the towns on feudal or ecclesiastical estates 
than in those in ancient demesne. The king had less 
interest than other lords in the petty details of local govern- 
ment, and less concern in retaining authority in small matters, 
and he was therefore more ready to delegate to the burgesses 
themselves, for an adequate consideration, his jurisdiction and 
the profits thence arising. This delegation was always made 
by charter. 

The first step towards independence was a financial 
change. The town had no separate existence from the 
county of which it merely formed a hundred. The first 
move towards separation was a separation of the finances. 
The contribution from the town to the royal exchequer had 
been originally merged in that due from the whole county. 
The burgesses got the sheriff to agree to accept a fixed sum 
from the town apart from the rest of the county. Their next 
object was to have the privilege of making their payments 
direct to the king. Hitherto they had been collected by the 
sheriff of the county, who had farmed the taxes from the 
king, paying him a sum agreed upon beforehand, and making 
what he could out of the taxpayer. This system answered 
the king's purpose very well. It ensured to him or was 
supposed to ensure the punctual and regular payment of 
the taxes, and it saved him the trouble of collecting them ; 
and there can be little doubt that it suited the sheriff equally 
well, and that he and his assistants all made their profit on 
the transaction. But how hardly it bore on the burgesses is 
shewn by their anxiety to escape from the clutches of the 
middlemen and to make their payments direct to the king. 
The sheriff had no lack of means wherewith to enforce his 
demands and retaliate on the burgesses if they were not 
sufficiently prompt in their payments. We read in Domesday 
that it was complained of the Norman sheriff of Cambridge- 
shire that he had deprived the burgesses of their common 


pasture, " that he had required the loan of their ploughs nine 
times in the year, whereas in the reign of the Confessor they 
lent their ploughs only thrice in the year, and found neither 
cattle nor carts." 1 

The efforts of the burgesses of Cambridge, as of other 
towns, were therefore next directed towards ridding them- 
selves of this part, at least, of the authority of the sheriff. 
Early in the reign of King Henry I., they petitioned that the 
town might be granted to them at a fixed rent equal to that 
hitherto paid by the sheriff. This privilege, which many 
other towns were at that time striving to obtain, is the first 
recorded step towards municipal liberty in Cambridge. Its 
importance is shewn by the large sums which the burgesses 
were prepared to pay on receiving the grant, in addition to 
continuing the same payment as the sheriff had made. 

The amount agreed upon appears to have been 45 a 
year. We find that all through the Middle Ages the farm 
of Cambridge was frequently given as a dower to the queen. 
The earldom of Cambridge and Huntingdon has been almost 
invariably held by a member of the royal family. What 
connection with royalty these facts indicate, or how and 
when such, if any, connection arose, we cannot say. 

The next charter, " so far as its provisions are intelligible, 
seems to have been intended to secure to this borough a 
monopoly of the trade of the county, as also to provide for 
the inhabitants the benefit of a domestic judicature." 2 As 
such the burgesses doubtless considered it a concession of the 

1 Cooper, Annals, I. 18. one take toll elsewhere but there; and 

2 Cooper, Annals, I. 25, where the whosoever in that borough shall forfeit, 
following translation is given : let him there do right ; but if any do 

HENRY, King of England, to otherwise, I command that he be at 

Hervey Bishop of Ely and all his right to me thereupon before myjustices 

Barons of Grantebrugeshire, greeting; when I command thereupon to plead. 

I prohibit any boat to ply at any shore WITNESS, the Chancellor and Milo 

of Grantebrugeshire, unless at the shore of Gloucester. 

of my borough of Cantebruge, neither Mr Cooper considered that this 

shall carts be laden, unless in the charter was granted about 1118. 
borough of Cantebruge, nor shall any 


greatest importance. Indeed these two liberties, to hold the 
farm of the town and to exercise the jurisdiction within it, 
were the privileges on which the burgesses set the greatest 
store. Almost all subsequent grants were enlargements or 
confirmations of these two rights. But these and other privi- 
leges were forfeited at the death of the king, and at the 
beginning of each reign the town was at great pains and cost 
to get its charters confirmed. It appears that the privileges 
were not renewed by Henry II. till towards the end of his 
reign, and that in the meantime the sheriff had held the town 
at farm. 1 In 1185 the burgesses paid to the king the sum of 
300 marks and a mark of gold, or 309 silver marks in all, to 
have the farm ; the old monopoly of the river trade is said to 
have been renewed at the same time. Richard I. renewed the 
grant in the second year of his reign, when the amount to be 
paid into the Exchequer appears to have been raised from 
45 to 60 a year, but the town had also to pay a heavy fine 
for the grant of the privilege. 

The former grants were renewed by King John at the 
beginning of his reign, and during the next few years two 
important charters were obtained by which the liberties of the 
town were greatly enlarged. The first of these is dated at 
Geddington the 8th January I2OO-I. 2 Its most important 
provisions are: (i) That there should be a Gild Merchant; 
(2) That all civil cases between burgesses should be heard 
within the borough. The first of these grants demands more 
than a passing notice. 

1 HENRY, by the grace of God therefore I command that the aforesaid 

King of England, Duke of Normandy burgesses and all theirs you keep and 

and Aquitaine, and Earl of Anjou, To maintain as my own, and that none do 

his Justices, Sheriffs, and all his Ministers injury, molestation, or hurt to them in 

and faithful People, greeting : KNOW anything, for I am unwilling that they 

YE, that I have delivered at farm to should answer to anyone thereof, except 

my burgesses of Cambridge my town of to me, at my Exchequer. WITNESS, 

Cambridge, TO HOLD of me in chief Roger, son of Remfridus, at Kenil- 

by the same farm which the Sheriff is worth. (Cooper, Annals, I. 28. 1185.) 
now accustomed to render, that they 2 Cooper, Annals, I. 31. 

may answer at my Exchequer. AND 


The members of the Gild Merchant were to be free of all 
toll on crossing dyers and bridges or on selling goods, and of 
tolls within the fair and Without, through all the King's lands, 
saving always the liberties of the City of London. These 
tolls were paid by all other burgesses, and exemption from 
them was the great privilege of the members of the Merchant 
Gilds which were being set up at this time in so many 
boroughs. 1 The grant of a Gild Merchant was often equiva- 
lent to the grant of a monopoly in trade to a favoured few. 
" The words ' so that no one who is not of the Gild may trade 
in the said town, except with the consent of the burgesses,' 
which frequently accompanied the grant of a Gild Merchant, 
expresses the essence of this institution. It was clearly a 
concession of the exclusive right of trading within the 
borough." 2 But membership of the Gild was probably 
open to every burgess or freeman on payment of an entrance 
fee, and on taking oath to observe its statutes and to pay 
' scot and lot,' that is, tolls and rates, towards the municipal 
expenses. Those who were " foreign " to the town were only 
able to obtain trading rights by purchasing them from the 
Gild, and none but freemen were permitted to sell by retail 
at ordinary times ; but even so the monopoly must, in effect, 
have ceased. The chief duties of the Gild would be protecting 
and furthering trade interests, regulating matters connected 
with industry, and perhaps giving assistance to members in 

"The meetings of the Gild Merchant were generally called 

1 According to Dr Gross, the earliest jority at a later period. Dr Gross also 

distinct references to the Gild Merchant shews how a borough, in applying for 

appear in a charter granted to Burford, a charter frequently copied the terms of 

about a century before this. In the one granted to some other town. The 

meantime some five and twenty boroughs Cambridge charter of 1201 was, he 

had obtained the privilege. Some im- says, copied from that obtained by 

portant towns such as Bury St Edmunds, Gloucester in 1199, while that was in 

Canterbury, Derby, Gloucester, Ipswich, part an exact transcript of the charter 

Lynn, and Yarmouth formed a Gild of Richard I. to Winchester. (Gross, 

Merchant at almost exactly the same Gild Merchant.} 

time as Cambridge, but the great ma- 2 Ib. I. 43. 


'gilds' or 'morning-talks'.. ..The number held yearly varied in 
different places and in different periods ; annual, semi-annual, 
and quarterly meetings seem to have been the most common. 
At these assemblies new members were admitted; punishment 
was inflicted for breaches of the statutes; and new ordinances 
were made. Each Gild had its own peculiar enactments, 
defining its privileges and prescribing rules of conduct for 
its brethren. At the regular meetings, or on days specially 
appointed, there was much eating, drinking, and merry-making ; 
'drynkyngs with spiced cakebrede and sondry wynes, the 
cuppes merilly servyng about the hous.'" 

The Gild Merchant having control over trade and 
industry, soon became, and for some time continued to 
be, an important department of the municipal government. 
But the Gild was in some places, though not in Cambridge 
apparently, gradually supplanted by the craft gilds, which 
rose in number and power in the fourteenth century. The 
work which it had formerly done was now performed by the 
gild of each craft. Craftsmen were freely admitted into the 
Gild Merchant, which probably included, even in later times, 
the whole body of burgesses, while at Cambridge, by an 
ordinance passed in the middle of the sixteenth century, all 
freemen were obliged to be members of the Gild and to attend 
its meetings. 2 As its active life, for trade purposes, ceased, 
the Gild was, to a great extent, merged in the Common 
Council of the town, though it never became actually identical 
with it. The offices of the two corporations were frequently 
filled by the same persons. The very hall of the Gild was 
transferred to the town ; lent at first to the Common Council 
for its meetings, it became in course of time town property. 
It was thus that the town hall so frequently came to be known 
as the Guildhall. 

Even when the utility of the Gild Merchants ceased with 
regard to trade, they still retained the position of religious 
gilds, or became a particular phase or function of the 

1 Gross, i. 32. 2 Cooper, Annals, II. i- 

C. 2 


municipality, in its character, namely, of a trade monopoly, 
or they gradually dwindled down to a periodical civic feast 
of the privileged few. 1 It must be confessed that it was 
the latter fate which befel the Gild Merchant of Cambridge. 
Some religious ceremonies connected with it lingered on and 
were revived at the beginning of Queen Mary's reign, when 
it was ordained by the Common Council "that the Guylde, 
called Guyld Merchant, shall be kept agayne as yt hathe been 
used in tymes past, on the Sondaie after Relique Sondaie, and 
that Mr Maior shal be Alderman thereof for this yere, and the 
Tresorers Masters thereof." 2 Clearly the Gild Merchant had 
now come to be thought of as nothing more than an annual 
church-going, followed probably by a feast. 

To return to the days of King John. The principles of 
local government were developing rapidly, and the second of 
the two important charters granted by that king conferred 
on the burgesses no less a privilege than the right to elect the 
chief officer of the town for themselves, " whom they will and 
when they will." 3 It also gave, in perpetuity, the farm of 

1 Gross, I. 161. command that the aforesaid Burgesses 

2 Cooper, Annals, II. 93. Relic and their heirs shall have and hold the 
Sunday was the third Sunday after aforesaid Town with all its appurte- 
Midsummer Day. nances well and peaceably, freely and 

3 JOHN, by the grace of God, quietly, entirely, fully and honourably, 
King of England, Lord of Ireland, in meadows and feedings, mills, pools 
Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and and waters, with all their liberties and 
Earl of Anjou, TO our Archbishops, free customs; WE GRANT also to 
Bishops, Abbots, Earls, Justices, Sheriffs, them that they shall make of themselves 
Provosts, and all our Bailiffs and faith- a Provost whom they will and when 
ful People greeting : KNOW YE that they will. WITNESS William Bishop 
we have granted, and by this our of London, Peter Bishop of Winchester, 
Charter have confirmed to our Burgesses John Bishop of Norwich, Josceline 
of Cambridge the town of Cambridge, Bishop of Bath, Geoffrey Fitzpeter 
with all its appurtenances, TO HAVE Earl of Essex, the Earl of Aubermale, 
AND TO HOLD it for ever of us and Wm. Briwerr, Geoffrey de Nevill, 
our Heirs to them and their Heirs ; Reginald de Cornhill. GIVEN by the 
RENDERING therefore yearly at our hands of Hugh Wells, Archdeacon of 
Exchequer the ancient farm, to wit Wells, at Lambeth, the eighth day of 
forty pounds white and twenty pounds May in the eighth year of our reign, 
tale of increase, for all services by their (Cooper, Annals, I. 33. 1207.) 

hands at two Exchequers in the year. The two Exchequers were held at 

WHEREFORE we will, and firmly Easter and Michaelmas. 


the town, which had formerly been held only during the life 
of the king by whom it was granted. Nevertheless the 
burgesses continued to ask each new king to confirm their 
charters and were ready to pay him handsomely for so doing. 

Some time during the next thirty years the earlier title of 
Provost was changed for that of Mayor. The earliest extant 
document in which this title occurs is a commission issued by 
King Henry III. in 1235, "empowering the Sheriff, together 
with Matthew Grescyen and Henry de Coleville, by view of 
the mayor and twelve approved men of the town, to appease 
all controversies, so that the poor should not be too much 
aggrieved, nor the rich too much spared." 1 The contro- 
versies, whatever they were, had led to the seizure by the 
king of the town franchises, which were only restored on 
payment of a fine of 100 marks. In 1256 the liberties were 
further enlarged. The election of coroners, with duties much 
more various than at present, was granted to the burgesses, 
and regulations as to arrest for debt and other matters were 

From the period we have now reached, namely, the 
middle of the thirteenth century, the quiet progress of the 
town history is interrupted by a rival body, which rapidly 
grew in importance, and was destined for a very long time to 
be a thorn in the side of the burgesses. The birth of the 
University is lost in obscurity, and fable of course assigns to 
it a very remote antiquity. But there appears to be no 
distinct reference to it in any known document earlier than 
the thirteenth century, and the Hundred Rolls shew that 
even in 1278 it cannot have been a numerous or wealthy 
body. But from that period the growth of its privileges was 
rapid, and overshadowed to some extent those of the town. 
Henceforth the charters obtained by the two bodies are in 
great part concerned with their antagonistic liberties. There 
were at this time no colleges, the scholars being quartered in 
the houses of the townsmen. It was, therefore, impossible for 

1 Cooper, Annals, I. 42. 


the University authorities to exercise much control or maintain 
much discipline among the crowd of schoolboys under their 
charge, or to protect them from fraud or extortion, and there 
was every opportunity for discord and rioting. At a time, 
too, when the burgesses were bent on enlarging their liberties 
in every direction, and especially on obtaining complete 
jurisdiction within the town, a rival jurisdiction was set up by 
removing offending scholars from the power of the Mayor 
and handing them over to the Chancellor. The ill feeling 
which was always smouldering occasionally broke into flame, 
as in 1261, when a free fight took place, in which houses 
were plundered and the records of the University were 
destroyed. Sixteen townsmen were executed for the part 
they had taken in the riot. A similar outbreak occurred in 
1322, but these risings were slight compared with the Peasant 
Revolt of 1381, which, at Cambridge, was directed chiefly 
against the University. 

In consequence of this state of affairs a charter was 
granted to the University in 1267 8, and, though it is not 
recorded, a similar charter must have been given to the town, 
providing for the maintenance of public order as well as for 
the regulation of prices. The University charter commands 
that there shall be two aldermen and also four of the more 
discreet and lawful burgesses of the town to assist the mayor 
and bailiffs in preserving the King's peace, and in keeping 
the assizes of the town, and in searching out malefactors and 
the receivers of thieves. Every parish was also to elect two 
men of the parish who should swear that they will once a 
fortnight enquire if any suspected person lodges in the parish. 
Another provision is directed against regrators, or those who 
bought goods merely to sell them again at a higher rate. 
Regulations are also made for the assise of bread and beer. 
The test was to be made twice a year, within fifteen days of 
the feast of S. Michael, and about the time of the feast of 
S. Mary in March. Every baker should have his seal, and 
every brewer should shew his sign, so that those whose bread 


or beer lacked weight or quality might be known. Those 
brewers and bakers who offended for the third time were 
condemned to the pillory or tumbrel. Wine was to be sold 
indifferently to clerks as to laymen. Finally the town should 
be cleansed and kept clean, and the town ditch should be 
cleared out, for doing whereof two of the more lawful bur- 
gesses in every street were to be sworn before the Mayor. 1 
The cleansing and the paving of the streets was for long 
after this a trouble to both the University and town, and not 
seldom a source of discord between the two bodies. 

The charters of Henry III. were renewed in 1280 by 
Edward I., and in 1313 Edward II. again confirmed them 
and granted some new privileges. 

Edward III., early in his reign, renewed the charters 
given to the burgesses by his predecessors, on payment of a 
reasonable fine, and also granted their prayer that they 
might have notice of any petition presented by the Univer- 
sity. Though the burgesses cautiously prefaced this request 
with the statement that the divers franchises and privileges 
of the two communities of clerks and laymen were not 
repugnant " as the law might suppose," yet the privileges of 
the University must almost always have been gained at the 
expense of the town, and we can hardly doubt that the object 
of the burgesses in asking for such notice was that they 
might oppose the petitions of the rival body. The town at 
the same time put forward a third and more important 
prayer, namely, " That whereas they held the town at fee 
farm of the King at 62 per annum, towards payment 
whereof they had no certain means, except by small tolls and 
customs from strangers who came into the said town with 
merchandise on the market-day, which were nearly done 
away with by the franchises granted to great lords and their 
tenants ; they therefore prayed that they might approve 
(enclose) the small lanes and waste places in the town." The 
answer to this petition was, " That as to approvement, good 

1 Cooper, Annals, I. 50. 


men should be assigned to inquire by strangers if the King 
might grant their prayer, without damage to him or of 
others ; and that on the return of the inquest, the King would 
be advised." 1 In this petition the corporation, it would ap- 
pear, for the first time sought licence to hold property, and it 
is unfortunate that we do not know the final decision of the 
King. A few years later (1347) the town Treasurer's ac- 
counts (the earliest extant) shew receipts 2 from various shops, 
but when these came into possession of the corporation does 
not appear. 

From the middle of the fourteenth century the materials 
for the history of the town become fuller and more interesting. 
Ordinances drawn up by the Town Council and the accounts 
presented annually by the Treasurers give some valuable 
details of the system of government. The earliest volume of 
the town records, known from old time as " The Cross 
Book," also dates from this period. It begins with a Kalen- 
dar, slightly illuminated, and some extracts from the first 
chapters of the Gospels of S. Luke and S. John. These 
leaves may possibly have formed part of a volume used in 
the Middle Ages for swearing the members and officials of 
the Corporation. 3 They are followed by a collection of 
ordinances and miscellaneous matters down to the time of 
Henry VI. 

The town had now had Mayors or Provosts for nearly a 
hundred and fifty years, but the manner of their election and 
of that of the Council and Officers, and to what extent these 
originally represented the popular will, does not appear. In 
1344 the Town Council made an ordinance prescribing the 
manner of election. Whether this was a new departure or 
simply re-stated the old custom, we do not know. It appears 
that the commonalty had considerably more voice in the 
matter than was usual in the boroughs at that period. The 
whole of the new council was elected by two men, one of 

1 Cooper, Annals, I. 84. 1330. 3 Historical MSS. Commission, 

2 Amounting to 99 shillings. First Report, Appendix, 99 b. 


whom was appointed by the outgoing mayor and council, and 
the other by the commonalty. It would, therefore, appear 
that each of these two interests would be equally represented 
in the new council, while the new mayor would have a casting 
vote. 1 The council thus constituted was for long known as 
"The Four-and-Twenty," and the same mode of election 
continued, with little variation, till the Municipal Reform 
Act of 1835. 

By the middle of the fourteenth century, the town had 
reached complete municipal independence, and we are able 
to see with some clearness the working of the system of 
government which it had developed. 2 The fully developed 
staff as it survived at a later time, and as, in its main elements, 
it probably existed about the fourteenth century, consisted of 
a Mayor, four Bailiffs, twelve Aldermen, twenty-four Common 
Councilmen, two Treasurers, four Counsellors, two Coroners, 
Town Clerk and Deputy Town Clerk ; these appear to have 
formed the executive. Other officers were, the High Steward, 
the Recorder, Deputy Recorder, and Chaplain. The servants 
or inferior officers were the Sergeants-at-Mace, the Waits or 
town musicians who also acted as watchmen, the Pindars who 

1 The following translation of this sworn, shall enter the chamber, and 

ordinance is given in Cooper's Annals there shall elect twelve approved and 

of Cambridge, I. 96. BE IT REMEM- lawful men of the commonalty afore- 

BERED that on the day of election of said, in the Guildhall being on the 

mayor and bailiffs of the town of Cam- same day; which twelve shall choose 

bridge in the eighteenth year of the to themselves six, and then the afore- 

reign of King Edward the Third after said eighteen, in the presence of the 

the Conquest, of the assent of the whole commonalty, shall swear that they will 

commonalty of the town aforesaid, IT elect a certain mayor, fit and sufficient 

WAS ORDAINED AND APPOINT- for the government of the town afore- 

ED, that for the future the election of said, four bailiffs, two aldermen, four 

mayor and bailiffs, aldermen, council- councillors, and two taxors of the town 

lors and taxors of the town aforesaid, aforesaid, fit and sufficient, for whom 

be under this form, to wit, that one they will answer. AND this constitu- 

approved and lawful man of the com- tion was recited and confirmed to endure 

monalty by the mayor and his assessors for ever, so that those two first choosing 

sitting on the bench, and another like the twelve, be not in the election, 

unto him, by the said commonalty, 2 For a list of all the charters granted 

shall be elected. Which two men being to the town see Chapter vi. 


empounded stray cattle and had charge of the commons, and 
the Cook. 

The powers possessed by this governing body were 
ample ; indeed they were in theory not very far short of 
those exercised by the Town Council of to-day. They in- 
cluded jurisdiction in a large class of cases both civil and 
criminal, the collection of the rent due to the king, police, 
paving and cleaning the streets, the control of the commons, 
registration of apprentices, the assise of bread and beer, the 
control of the market and the regulation of trade generally. 
The expenses incurred by the Four-and-Twenty in the exercise 
of these duties were met by a special house tax called High 
Gable rent, a corruption of Hagable 1 or Hagafol, a land 
tax of a similar nature known as Landgable, by customs on 
all goods brought into the town, rents of booths in the market, 
by fees for the admission of freemen, fees and fines arising 
from the civil jurisdiction and from the registration of the 
transfer of property, 2 and by other small dues. Some of the 
offices from which profits arose were farmed out to individuals 
by the corporation, as in earlier times the taxes had been 
farmed out by the king. The holders of these farms were 
armed with small maces as warrants of their authority. The 
paving was paid out of special tolls on goods brought into 
the town for sale, 3 and the provision of soldiers and boats in 
time of war out of a rate levied for the purpose ; neither 
could be imposed but by permission of parliament ; the other 
principal items of expenditure under ordinary circumstances 
are suggested by the duties which we have mentioned as 
being undertaken by the Four-and-Twenty. But in addition 
to these there was a heavy annual bill for presents, for with 
presents of all kinds and to all sorts, both high and low, did 
the Mayor grease the wheels of the somewhat cumbrous 
Municipal wain. A few examples may be given here. In 

1 Cooper, Annals, I. 18. 3 Cooper, Annals, I. 62. 

2 Granted by Charter, 1385. 


the town treasurer's accounts, we find, for instance, the 
following : 

John Dengayne, sheriff, for the new gift to him that he would 
not take victuals, ^3; to the undersheriff for the same, half a mark. 

To Sir William de Thorp, justice, 40^.; to his clerk, zs. 

To the messenger of the Lord the King, coming for the armed 
men, 40^. 

To a messenger carrying the writ for a ship, 2S. ' 

Rewards to undersheriff and sheriff's clerk for their good be- 
haviour towards the burgesses, 2os. 2 

In a present, namely, one pipe of red wine by the mayor and 
burgesses of this town, given this year to the Lords de Tiptoft and 
de Powys, 66s. 8</. 3 

Item, payed to John Lyne at the commandment of Mr Maior 
for a present yoven to my lord Crumwell, vij". 

Item, for a Reward to my lorde Crumwells players, ujs. ^d. * 

Two dishes of marmylade & a gallon of ypocrasse, ix.y. \\i]d. 5 

To the King's poett, xs. 6 

Something may here be said of the representation of the 
borough in Parliament. Cambridge was one of the towns 
which returned members to the great Parliament called by 
Edward I., in 1295, the first in which the boroughs generally 
had been represented. The town chose Sir John de Cam- 
bridge and Benedict Godsone. Sir John de Cambridge was 
a man of note in the town, and afterwards became a justice of 
the King's Bench. He was twice Alderman of the Gild of 
Corpus Christi, a post held subsequently by John Duke of 
Lancaster. He was evidently a man of means, for he pre- 
sented to the gild a very valuable piece of plate, and to the 
college of Corpus Christi, which the gild had founded, a large 
number of houses. He himself lived in one of the very few 
houses in the town which were built of stone. The electors 
were probably, as they were at a later period, a select body of 
twelve burgesses. The Members were no doubt each paid the 

1347- 2 1426. 3 1436- 
1540- 5 1561. 6 1614-5. 


shilling a day for their expenses required by Act of Parlia- 
ment ; the town treasurer's accounts for this period have un- 
fortunately not been preserved, but at a later time they contain 
entries for this account. In 1425, for instance, the sum of ^8 
is charged for the expenses of William Weggewode and Roger 
Kyche, burgesses of Parliament, for 80 days, at 1 2d. each per 
day. The same charge is repeated in other years, and in 1427 
it is specially ordained that the payment of members shall be 
limited to a shilling a day, and the rate remained the same 
in 1549; in 1563 it was raised to two shillings a day. 1 In 
the year 1424 the members had been allowed two shillings, 
but the town appears to have been engaged at about this 
time in the important work of obtaining a renewal of its 
charters from John, Duke of Bedford, the young king's 
guardian. We find a shilling charged for wine at the house 
of William Weggewode, then representing the town, " in the 
presence of the Mayor and other burgesses, occupied about 
business touching the town," and the treasurers also deliver 
to William Weggewode "for the confirmation of the King's 
Charter, to wit of green wax, 4." 2 In the last year of the 
reign, the Town Council forbade the election of any person 
who was not a resident within the town, upon pain of for- 
feiture of 100 shillings to the treasurers of the aforesaid town, 
by every burgess who shall take upon himself to act contrary 
to the ordinance aforesaid. 3 

Although Parliament itself had legislated on the subject, 
the mode of electing members of Parliament was determined 
by each town in its own way. The Town Council of Cam- 
bridge in 1452 ordain "that the two burgesses of the 
Parliament should be chosen by the most part of the 
burgesses in the Guildhall at the election, and not one for 

1 The last payment of which we colour of the seal appended to the 
have record was made in 1660-1. process for the recovery of them. Ib. 
(Cooper, Annals, III. 493.) I. 178. 

2 A Charter of Green-wax was a 3 Ib. i. 211, 1460. An Act of 
grant of fines, issues, and amerciaments, Parliament to this effect was passed 
etc. The name was derived from the 1417- 


the bench by the Mayor and his assistants, and another by 
the commonalty, as of old time had been used : and that 
none thereafter should be chosen burgesses of the Parliament, 
unless resident and inhabitant within the town." l About a 
century later the system was changed and the mode of 
election was similar to that in use for municipal offices. 
The Mayor and the Four-and-Twenty chose one man and 
the commonalty another; these two elected, from the 
various wards, eight burgesses whose duty it was to elect 
the members. 2 The two electors originally chosen by the 
Mayor and commonalty had to take oath "that they were 
in no case laboured, by the Mayor or any other person, to 
choose any special person to be of the election." 3 

In 1556 a very important change was made. It was 
agreed by the Mayor, Aldermen, and Four-and-Twenty that 
the next election of Burgesses in Parliament should be in 
the accustomed manner, except that the man who had hither- 
to been chosen by the commonalty should be chosen by the 
Four-and-Twenty, the Bailiffs, the Treasurers, and those who 
had borne the office of Bailiff or Treasurer, and that no 
commoners should be called to the election. " This ordein- 
ance to stande for this onely tyme upon triall and prove what 
quietnesse may ensue hereof." 4 Burgesses were elected 
accordingly but it does not appear what quietness did ensue 
or how long the ordinance remained in force. 

The system adopted at the Parliamentary and Municipal 

1 Cooper, Annals, I. 205. Ragge; for the market ward Richard 

2 Ibid. I. 422. Corporation Com- Brasshey, W m Gryffyn; for the highe 
mon Day Book. Tuesday after Epi- ward John Norman, Harry Osbourne; 
phany, 1544-45. for the Preachers ward Christopher 

MEMORANDUM that the same Taylor & Will Pratt; w ch viij have 

daie & yere, for y e eleccion of the Bur- chosen for Burgessys of Parlyament, 

gesses of the Parliament, The Mayor & for the Parlyament to come, theys two, 

his Assystants for y c bench have namyd viz. : 

one manne, viz. John Rust; And the M r THOM 8 BRACKYN, 

Commonaltie have chosen one man, M r SYMON TRUE, 

viz. John Fanne; w ch two men, have 3 Ibid. n. 44. 

chosen viij men, viz. for the Bridgge * Ibid. II. 108. 

Ward Will m Richerdson cowper, Will m 


elections appears to have given the Burgesses an equal share 
with the Four-and-Twenty in the choice of representatives. 
But there are not wanting indications that as time went on 
the occasions on which the popular voice might make itself 
heard became less frequent. The general tendency of English 
municipal history towards an oligarchical form of government 
by a close corporation, appears, though perhaps in a modified 
form, in our own borough. But if the elections were ever 
popular even in the widest sense of the word as it was then 
understood, they were by no means so in a modern sense. 
Votes were strictly limited to the ' burgesses ' or freemen, as 
they were till the reforms of the present century, and the only 
question is to what extent even the burgesses had a share in 
the elections, the commonalty or ' mean people ' being rigidly 
excluded. But we hear very little of popular tumults or 
risings against authority. At the end of the thirteenth 
century indeed it is recorded that the poor complained to 
the king of the exactions of the rich who levied tolls upon 
them without reasonable cause, and, in the middle of the 
sixteenth century, riots occurred here as in other parts of 
the kingdom, on the enclosure of commons. But on the 
whole the Four-and-Twenty appear to have given the mean 
folk little cause for complaint. 

The great factor in this harmony was probably the constant 
presence of a common enemy in the University to which we 
have already alluded. The feeling which subsisted between 
the two bodies is shewn by the character which the general 
rising of 1381 assumed at Cambridge. The energy of the 
mob was chiefly directed against the University, 1 and es- 
pecially against books and documents and all evidences of 
privileges and titles to property possessed by the University. 
Late on a Saturday night they assembled at the Tolbooth, 
the Mayor, it is said, being present and approving their 

1 But partly also against the collec- Lancaster. Powell, Rising in East 
tors of the Poll Tax (see below, Chap. Anglia in 1381. 
iv.) and the retainers of the Duke of 


action, when it was agreed that the house of the bedell of 
the University should be destroyed, and the bedell himself, if 
he were found, should have his head cut off. The first part 
of the resolution was carried out, and the rabble then pro- 
ceeded to Corpus Christi College and Great S. Mary's Church, 
breaking into both and taking away all charters, writings and 
books. On the following day they forced the University 
authorities to execute deeds and to seal them with the 
common seal, renouncing all their privileges. They com- 
pelled the Masters of Colleges to deliver up their charters and 
letters patent and burnt them in the Market Place. The riot 
still continued on the Monday, till Henry le Spencer, Bishop 
of Norwich, marched out of Rutlandshire with a few men-at- 
arms, and attacked the mob, killing some and taking others 
prisoners. Cambridge was one of the towns excepted from the 
general pardon granted to the rebels in most parts of the 
kingdom. All the town franchises were seized and forfeited. 
After due enquiry certain of them were returned, but the fee- 
farm was raised from 101 marks to 105 marks, and some 
privileges were transferred permanently to the University. 
Henceforth the Chancellor was to make the assise of bread 
and beer and wine, the survey of weights and measures, 
enquiry as to forestallers and regrators and other matters 
connected with the sale of victuals. In all these things 
the Mayor and bailiffs should not interfere, but should therein 
humbly aid and attend the Chancellor. 

These quarrels dragged on through centuries. Charges 
were made before the king by either side ; compositions 
were drawn up defining the duties and powers of each ; the 
rivals were *at loggerheads again before the ink was dry ; 
arbitration was attempted by the first Edward before he 
became king, by the Lady Margaret, by Henry VIII. that 
of the latter was of a somewhat severe order only to fail. 
But the battle, in the end, died out. As the complicated 
jurisdiction of the Middle Ages became simplified, as the 
students were withdrawn more into college buildings, and 


as manners softened, the riots, the pillage and burnings, the 
petty quarrels and endless litigation dwindled into nothing 
more serious than a ' town and gown ' row, of which the 
"Tom Thumb Riot" of 1846 is perhaps the most striking 
modern example. 

We have sketched the gradual increase of authority dele- 
gated by the king to the corporation, and we must now say 
something of the symbol of that authority, namely the Mace. 
The Mace, as the outward sign of his power, accompanied the 
Mayor on all public occasions. By it he shewed that he 
acted on behalf of the king. Whenever the king visited the 
town the Mace was immediately delivered up to him, when he 
would touch it with his hand and return it to the Mayor. 
Unfortunately that want of reverence for antiquities as such, 
which was so remarkable in our forefathers, frequently led 
them to destroy their old maces and get new ones which they 
no doubt thought much smarter and more fashionable. 1 
How many times the Cambridge maces underwent this 
process we do not know, but the five at present in use 
date from the first half of the eighteenth century. The 
Great Mace has an iron rest which supports it in a nearly 
upright position. This rest, which is ornamented with a 
silver-gilt escocheon, is unique, and is therefore of some 
interest, but the maces themselves are of the usual form 
with arched crowns, and are of no great artistic merit. 2 

1 In 1564, when Queen Elizabeth 5 inches long, and weighs nearly 156 

was about to visit the town the Trea- ounces. The head is divided into four 

surers paid " to Thomas Hutton Gould- compartments containing (i) the rose 

smithe for mendinge of the greate mase and thistle, (2) the fleur-de-lis, (3) the 

and gildinge it, xx 8 ." In 1610 we find harp, each surmounted by a crown 

the charge, " Item, for the great nyice between the letters A R, (4) the arms of 

new making, xiiij u . vj 8 ."; and in 1612 the borough; the cover of the head 

"Item, for makinge of the mases new, bears the Royal Arms. The Rest is of 

xiiij 1 '." iron with a silver gilt escocheon which 

a The great Mace and Rest were weighs about 25 ounces. The four 

given to the town in 1710 by Samuel smaller maces are all alike and are very 

Shepheard, jun., of Exning, one of the similar to the great mace, but have the 

Members of Parliament for the Borough. initials GR instead of A R, and the 

The Mace is of silver gilt about 4 feet arms of Hanover are introduced into 



There is, however, a small mace of copper-gilt which is 
very elegant (fig. 4). Although of the 
time of King Charles I., it is quite 
medieval in character. The bowl 
or head originally the handle knob 
is cup-shaped, but broad and low 
compared with the later maces. The 
handle has the three projecting 
plates with which the head was 
originally armed. The plate which 
covered the top of the bowl and 
displayed the Royal Arms has un- 
fortunately been lost. The bowl 
bears the devices C, R, a rose, and 
an arched crown, and its rim is or- 
namented with a cresting of Maltese 
crosses and fleur-de-lis. This mace 
was probably one of those used 
by some of the inferior officers of 
the town as the symbol of their 

The earliest mention of the 
mayor's official seal occurs in the 
middle of the fourteenth century. 
At what date it was first used we 
do not know, but in I349 1 it is 
affixed at the request of the Gild of 
Corpus Christi to a deed executed 
by the Gild, because it was better 
known than their own. 2 In the following century a new 

Time of Charles I. 

the royal shield. They were given in 
1724 by Thomas Bacon, Member of 
Parliament for the borough, and are 
engraved with his arms. All the maces 
and the Rest were made by Benjamin 
Pyne. (C. A. S., Old Cambridge Plate.} 
1 Yet in 1381, three persons repre- 
senting the town in an enquiry made 

by Parliament, on "being asked if they 
had authority under the common seal 
of the town, replied in the negative, 
saying the town had no common seal." 
Cooper, Annals, \. 123. 

2 The seal is about the size of a 
penny piece, and is inscribed SIGILLUM 


seal (fig. 5, p. 33) of very beautiful design was made by order 
of the Four-and-Twenty. 1 It is somewhat similar to the 
earlier one in general design, but instead of the arms of 
England being repeated in two shields with a lion in base 
as supporter, there is one escocheon of France modern and 
England quarterly, supported by two angels kneeling. 
The inscription is S. COMUNITATIS VILLE CAN- 
TEBRIGE. 2 In 1471 a seal was in use which resembled 
that of 1349." This seal was eventually superseded by one 
bearing the arms granted to the corporation in 1575 by 
Robert Cooke, Clarencieux, on his visitation made in that 
year (fig. 3, p. 12). Like the arms granted by Cooke to 
other corporate bodies, it is inferior in design to the earlier 
coats. He also added, as he did in the case of Trinity Hall, 
the anachronism of a crest. This coat of arms continues 
in use at the present time. It is now affixed to documents 
by embossing the paper itself without the use of wax ; the 
press by which it is applied is secured by three padlocks as 
directed in the ordinance of 1423. We give the terms of the 
grant below, omitting some wordy passages which are not 
very much to the purpose. 4 

TO ALL AND SINGULAR, as well nobles and gentils as 
others, to whom these presents come, Robert Cooke, Esquire, alias 
Clarencieux, Principal Herehaut and King of Arms, of the south 
east and west parts of this realm of England, from the river Trent 
southward, sendeth greeting in our Lord God Everlasting AND 

The device consists of a bridge, em- commonalty, should be sealed there- 
battled, of four arches, over a river; with. And that the seal of the office 
on the middle of the bridge a tower of mayor should remain in the custody 
and spire, on either side of which is an of the mayor for the term of his office." 
escocheon bearing the lions of England, Cooper, Annals, I. 171. 
each escocheon supported by a lion in 2 This seal is affixed to a document 
base, standing on the battlements of the dated 29th Sept. 1434. 
bridge. (MS. Cole, xn. 127 b.) 3 The shields bear the anns of 
1 On the Thursday after the Nati- France and England quarterly, and are 
vity of the Virgin, 1423, it was resolved, supported in base by two lions sejant. 
"That there should be a common seal The inscription is SIGILLU MAJORITA- 
ordained, which should be kept in the Tis VILLAE CANT." (MS. Cole, xn. 
treasury under the keys of the mayor i27b.) 

and aldermen; and that all leases of 4 It is given at length in Cooper's 

houses, and all matters touching the Annals of Cambridge, II. 330. 



WHEREAS, the most noble Prince of famous memory, King Henry 
the First, son of William Conqueror, did, by his letters patent, 
incorporate the town and borough of Cambridge with sundry liberties, 
whereby they are to use about their necessary affairs, one common 
seal of arms, as all other corporations do; since which time they 
have not only used in the same seal the portraiture of a bridge, but 

also made shew thereof in colours, being no perfect arms, I HAVE 

...not only set forth that their ancient common seal is a true and 
perfect arms, but also augmented and annexed unto the same arms, 
a crest and supporters, due and lawful to be borne, in manner and 
form following, that is to say, Gules a bridge, in chief, a flower de 
luce gold, between two roses silver, on a point wave, three boats 
sable : and to the crest, upon the healme on a wreath gold and gules, 
on a mount vert, a bridge silver. Mantled gules, doubled silver. 
The arms supported by two Neptune's horses, the upper part gules, 
the nether part proper, finned gold, as more plainly appeares depicted 

in the margin; IN WITNESS whereof, I, the said Clarencieux 

King of Arms, have set hereunto my hand and seal of office, the 
seventh day of June, Anno Domini, 1575, and in the seventeenth 
year of the reign of our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth, &c. 

Roy d'Armes. 

Among the payments made by the Town Treasurers for 
the year ending Michaelmas 1575 occurs the following: 
"Item, to y e Herault for grauntinge and settinge out y e 
townes armes & patent thereof, v u ." 

We have now traced the rise of the Municipality from its 
dawn to the noon-tide of its history. We must reserve its 
later career for another chapter. 

FIG. 5. SEAL OF 1423. 




Local Government. Mayor and Four-and-Twenty. Duties of Mayor. 
Watch, punishments, sanctuary. Fire. Paving. Filthy streets. 
Plague, Black Death. Freedom. Tournaments and other games. 

The Gilds. Gild of Thanes. Social Gilds. Anti-clerical character of 
some Cambridge Gilds. Candle rents. County Gilds. Gilds of 
Corpus Christi, S. Mary, and Holy Trinity, and some others. 
End of Gilds 1545. List of Cambridge Gilds. 

Local Government. 

WE have seen how civic authority gradually widened and how 
by successive charters the town acquired the right to manage 
its own affairs. We must now speak more particularly of the 
Mayor and Four-and-Twenty and of the way in which they 
used the power with which they were vested. We shall then 
attempt to give some account of that most interesting phase 
of medieval life, the combination of individuals into gilds for 
mutual help and protection both moral and physical, a 
system initiated and brought to perfection by the people 
themselves. These matters will throw some light on the 
every-day-life of the common folk of the town. 

To speak first of the Mayor and the Four-and-Twenty. 
The Mayor was obliged to dwell within the town, " in som 
convenient place there, mete for y e mayer of that towne. So 
that the same may be openly knowne to all persons repayringe 
to y e same towne there, to be the Mayers house, by the honest 
dressing & trimminge of the same, as well inwardlye as 
outwardlye." * The honest dressing outwardlye was, it is 

1 Ordinance, 1556. Cooper, Annals, n. 107. 


presumed, ornamental posts, brightly painted, standing in the 
street in front of his house, by which the dwelling of a Mayor 
was usually distinguished. On the feasts of Christmas, 
Easter, Whitsun, and Michaelmas, "and all the holliedays 
of the same," the Mayor wore his scarlet gown, the aldermen 
being in "murrey onelie." At Michaelmas the senior alder- 
men were equal with the Mayor in respect of " gownes," 
while each had " one servant at the leaste wayting on him to 
and from the chirche." And not only were the Mayor and 
aldermen obliged by ordinance to wear their robes, but they 
had to provide their wives with scarlet gowns also, or, in 
default, to pay a penalty of 10; it was even thought 
necessary to fine the wife 1, or six times as much as the 
alderman himself had to pay for a like offence, if she did 
not wear her gown on the appointed festivals. This was in 
the reign of Elizabeth. 

The Mayor must have been a most hard worked member 
of the community and his duties by no means ended with his 
state functions or with spending the 10 a year -allowed 
him for official hospitality. His routine work, besides pre- 
siding at the deliberations of the Town Council, included the 
appointment of guardians of orphans, the administration of 
wills, the admission of freemen, making the assay of bread, 
wine, and ale, (until this duty was transferred to the Uni- 
versity authorities,) and presiding at the bench of Magistrates, 
and at the Court of Pie-Powder in Stourbridge Fair. Besides 
these ordinary duties, soldiers had frequently to be provided 
to serve against the Scots or the French, " of the more strong 
and valiant of the town, armed with aketons, habergeons, 
bacinets, and iron breast-plates," and these had also to be 
supplied with victuals and clothes. A small and somewhat 
miscellaneous collection of arms was kept in the Tolbooth 
ready for use. Boats " called keles and seggebotes " had also 
to be found and converted into barges for use at sea with the 
king's ships, or a ballinger had to be manned with from forty 
to fifty oars, for the defence of the realm. In 1522, the king 



demanded twenty archers " in his service by yonde the See." 
John Thirleby, Town Clerk, was sent up to London to 
petition that only twelve be insisted upon, " to gett relesse 
of viij " as he expresses it. The accounts of Edward Slegge 
and John Harryson, treasurers of the town, give some details 
of the muster. 

Item, payed to two of the Kings pursuants comyng bothe upon 
oon day, w th lettres for xx Archers to the Kyng in his service by 
yonde the see, vj s viij d . 

Item, payed for Bow stryngs atte first Muster, ij d . 

Item, payed to Thomas Brakyn and John Thirleby rydyng to 
London, & to Wynndsor to gett relesse of viij Archers parcel of xx 
charged for the Towne of Cambridgge, ther beyng xv dayes for the 
same, as apperith by a bill delyvered to Edward Slegge, iiij marcs . 1 

The Mayor's administrative work appears to have been 
of a very personal character. We find him on one occasion 
going round the town with the Vice-Chancellor 'to cleanse 
the streets against the coming of the Cardinal ' ; at another 
time he is assaulted by a shearman whom he was arresting, 
and who was armed with his shears and with a dagger. 

In early times the burgesses themselves kept watch in the 
streets by night, and the hours during which each man was to 
be on duty had to be carefully arranged beforehand. After- 
wards this task was assigned to the Waits or official musicians, 
who were also aided by constables. It was the duty of certain 
burgesses selected from among the " more lawful " in each 
parish, to make enquiry about suspected persons who might 
be supposed to be lodging in their respective parishes. The 
waits were dressed in a uniform of " woollen cloth of bloody 
colour" with silver collars weighing five ounces or more. 2 
How insufficient was the protection afforded by the watch, is 
shewn by the ordinance enacted in the middle of the fifteenth 
century, that 

1 Cooper, Annals, I. 306. ounces and iij quarters, at iiij 8 viij d the 

2 Town Treasurers' accounts, 1564: ounce, L 8 ij d . Item, for y e makinge of 
"Item for y e waites collors, wayenge x y e same ij collors, xiij 8 viij d ." 


No maner of man ne woman, hold his doer open after curfew 
belle be rongen, for drede of Aspyers stondying therein, waytyng 
men for to betyn, or to slen, or for' other peryl that myght falle 
thereof. AND that no maner of man, of what degree that he be, go 
armyd ne bere no wepen in destourbance of the Kynges pes, opon 
peyne of XX s eche man that is founden in defaute for the same, to be 
payed to the Mayr and Baylies, and his body to go to prison. 1 

A bad substitute for the insufficiency of the watch was 
found in the severity and vile character of the punishments 
inflicted on evildoers. Trivial offences were punished by 
death, and the stocks, pillory, whipping post, and ducking 
stool were in constant use, while mere confinement in a 
medieval prison cannot but have been a terrible ordeal and 
must often have caused death. So late as 1665 a man 
convicted of robbery was condemned to be pressed to death, 
" which accordingly the same day was done between 5 and 7 
in the afternoon, he was about an houre in dying. At his 
pressing he confest himself guilty of y e robbery & of many 
other robberyes." 2 We have an instance of the practice of 
exposing the bodies of criminals who had been executed, in a 
grim record of 1441, when one of the quarters of a priest who 
had been executed at Tyburn was sent to Cambridge. 3 
Vagabonds and loose women were whipped at the cart's tail 
from the Tolbooth to the Bridge and back. We have 
reference to this practice in the following extracts from the 
accounts of the Town Treasurers : 

Item, for a visar bought at the comandement of Mr Maior & 
ye counsell, to serve for him that whipped vacabounds, ij s . 

Item, for viij yards of frise to make a cote for that purpose, 
vj s viij d . 

Item, for makinge the same cote and poynts, xxj d . 4 

And to the practice of branding a criminal in this : 

Item, to Bracher for mending of boults, and making a burning 
iron, ij s . 5 

1 Cooper, Annals, I. 196. (1445.) 4 Ib. II. 311. (1572.) 

8 Ib. in. 516. 5 Ib. II. 518. (1592.) 

3 Ib. I. 190. 


There is an interesting illustration of the use of the pillory 
in a letter from Lord North to the Vice-Chancellor in 1569 
respecting " evyll and fowle wordes," spoken to the Mayor by 
a student. In consideration of the offender being a member 
of the University, his lordship is " content that you shall 
qualyfe this punishment & that he shall but onely stand upon 
the Pillorye & have one of his eares nayled to the same by 
the space of three howrs, & that yow doe take order to see 
this done. And where yow alledge him to be dronke, yow 
are to consyder the tyme yn the mornyng, which was not lyke 

he could so longe remayne dronke And yf he had been 

eyther of the Sheer or towen he shoold have lost both hys 
eares." The borough accounts for the financial year 1569-70 
contain the item " for ij peces of tymber for the pillorie when 
the man was nayled there iiij d ." and there is also a charge for 
" fetchinge the pillorie from stirbridge chappell." The stocks 
were no doubt fixed and permanent as being in constant 
demand, and it was moreover ordered that every parish 
should have a pair. 

Another instrument of justice, the " Cuckyngstoole " or 
Ducking Chair, was situated at the Great Bridge. It is 
mentioned in the Hundred Rolls as one of the privileges of 
the town, and there are frequent charges for its repair. The 
chair hung by a pulley fastened to a beam about the middle 
of the bridge ; the back panel was engraved and painted with 
a representation of devils laying hold of scolds. Such was its 
appearance in the first half of last century, when it was 
constantly hanging in its place. Any woman convicted of 
being a common scold was placed in the chair and let down 
three times into the water. 

The right of Sanctuary added to the difficulties of the 
Watch. Each parish being responsible for any crime com- 
mitted within its boundaries, it behoved every one to assist in 
taking the culprit. If a criminal had taken sanctuary it was 
necessary to watch the church night and day to see that he 
did not escape. Thus when Agnes Makerell " placed herself 



in the church of the Friars Minors in Cambridge, and ac- 
knowledged herself to be a thief before many of the people, 
and having afterwards withdrawn from that church without 
making any abjuration; 1 it was adjudged by the justices 
itinerant, that the town should answer for her flight, and 
that she should be outlawed and waived." 2 At the same 
time it was impossible to touch the fugitive while she re- 
mained in the sacred precincts. The Mayor of Cambridge 
did, on one occasion, take a man who had fled to the cemetery 
of S. Peter's Church, but he, with the bailiffs and six others, 
were immediately threatened with excommunication by the 
Bishop of Ely, and only escaped by restoring the man and his 
goods to the church. The expense and trouble involved by 
this system must have been very heavy, especially in times of 
want, when crime would become more common. 

The town authorities also made provision against fire. A 
large number of leather buckets were kept in 
various places, besides scoops and ladders. Four 
large iron hooks 3 were kept in the Churches of 
S. Mary, S. Botolph, S. Andrew, and S. Sepul- 
chre. These hooks, of which one is still preserved 
in S. Benedict's churchyard (fig. 6), were fixed 
on to the ends of long poles and were also 
.provided with two rings to which chains or ropes 
could be attached. The hook would then be 
lifted on to the roof of a burning house, or one 
that was threatened, and the thatch would be 
quickly torn off, or even the timber framing 
plucked down. Mr Atwell condemns these 
hooks, for they "so let the fire have the more 
air to burn the more violently." In his directions 
for ' quenching an house on fire ' he says, " The 
Instruments for this purpose (not to speak of the 
water-squirt, which will throw a whole hogs-head 

FIG. 6. 


About five 

feet long. 

1 If she had abjured the realm she 
would have been allowed to depart 
without hindrance (Revue Htstorique, 
vol. I,.). 

2 Cooper, Annals, I. 61. (1286.) 

3 They were called "cromes," at 
Norwich (Russell, 139). 


of water to the top of an house at once ; for that such are 
scarce to be had, save in some great Towns or Cities) are 
pikes, spits, mawkins, pike staves, forks, wet-blankets, ladders, 
buckets, scopets, pails, &c. and the materials, water, coal-dust, 
turf-ashes, wood-ashes, sand, horse-dung, dust, dirt, and in 
extremity even drest-grain itself." 1 He then goes on to 
explain how each of these may be used. Though writing in 
the latter half of the seventeenth century, the conditions in 
his days were the same as those of the Middle Ages. The 
very chimneys were frequently made of wood. " If the foot 
of a brick or stone-chimney be on fire, discharge a pistoll 
twice or thrice upon it ; so soot and fire and all falls 

The paving of the streets was a trouble from very early 
times, and tolls were frequently levied on certain goods 
brought into the town to pay for the same, or at other times 
each householder was obliged to pave the street opposite to 
his own house. To prevent " the marring of the pavement " 
it was ordered, that no iron shod wheels or "other evil 
engine" should be allowed, but only bare wheels. 

The executive was not more successful in dealing with the 
removal of filth from the streets and yards. Refuse of all 
sorts was thrown out into the street and there allowed to 
accumulate in great heaps, or into the river and ditches. The . 
picture of the condition of the streets given in the Act of 35 
Hen. VIII. for paving the town is probably not too highly 
coloured. It is as follows : 

Forasmoche as the auncient Boroughe and Towne of Cambrydge, 
wele inhabyted and replenysshed withe people bothe in the Univer- 
site where noble and many worshipfull mennys chyldren be put to 
lernyng & study, also wyth dyvers and sundry Artyficers & other 
inhabitaunts, ys at this day very sore decayed in pavyng, and the 
high stretes & lanes within the same Towne excedyngly noyed wyth 
fylth and myre lying there in great heapes and brode plasshes not 
onely noysom & comberouse to the inhapytaunts of the sayd 
Boroughe, and suche other the Kyngs subjects as dayly dothe passe 
by and through the same on fote, but allso very perillous & tedious 

1 Atwell, 1662. p. 95. 


to all suche persones as shall on Horseback convey or cary any 
thing with carts by and throughe the same ' 

Matters must have been made far worse by the habit of 
housing cattle, swine, and horses in the town at nights and 
turning them out in the morning as the common herdman 
passed, to be driven by him to the town pastures. 2 The 
Parliament which was held here in 1388 passed an Act 
known formerly as the Statute of Cambridge providing for 
the keeping clean of towns. Perhaps it was suggested by the 
state of the town in which the Parliament sat. 3 

As each householder was obliged to pave the street oppo- 
site to his house, so also was he answerable for the lighting. 
On dark nights he had to hang out a lantern in front of his 
house. A crier was sent round the town on the nights when 
this was required. In the Town Treasurer's accounts we find 
the wages of the crier charged thus : 

1615. Item, to a fellowe that Cried candell light for xij weeks, 
xij s . 

1616. Item, to him that crieth lanthorne and Candell light, 
xiij 5 . 4 

As might be expected from this .state of things, the town 
was frequently visited by the plague, and sickness must have 
been at all times rife. We can hardly realise, now-a-days, 
the havoc made by the Black Death. There is a grim 
contemporary record of the condition of one part of the town 
soon afterwards. The Ward beyond the Bridge, that is, all 
the town on the Castle side of the river, appears to have 
been almost entirely destroyed. Most of the people in the 
parish of All Saints' in Castro died and those that escaped 
left the neighbourhood for other parishes. The people of 

1 Cooper, Annals, 1. 409. earlier editions, " Cantebr 1 " is translated 

2 In the Town Treasurer's accounts " Canterbury." Fuller noted this mis- 
for 1564, we find the following: "Item, take in his History, 1655. 

for a home for y e herdeman, xvj d ." 4 Cooper, Annals, ill. 93, 103. 

3 Statutes at Large, ed. Danby Also Knight's London, i. 402. Similar 
Pickering, 1762, II. 298, and Ruffhead charges occur annually from 1615 to 
and Runington, 1769, 1. In these as in 1672. 


S. Giles' suffered as severely. The nave of All Saints' Church 
fell into ruins and the bones of the dead were exposed to the 
beasts. 1 The rest of the town was in the same plight. The 
mortality among the clergy we know. For instance the 
Master of the Hospital of S. John died towards the end of 
April and one Robert de Sprouston was appointed to 
succeed him. He died very soon after and Roger de 
Broom was instituted on 24th May, but he also died, and 
another took his place. On the day that Roger de Broom 
was made Master the parson of S. Sepulchre's died, and 
several others died soon after. 2 " For three years previous 
to 1349 the average number of institutions recorded in the 
episcopal registers was nine, and in 1348 it was only seven. 
In this year of the great sickness 97 appointments to livings 
in the diocese were made by the Bishop's Vicars, and in July 
alone there were 25." 3 Father Gasquet calculates that out 
of 140 beneficed clergy and 508 non-beneficed, including the 
various religious orders, "at least 350 of the clerical order 
must have perished in the diocese of Ely." 3 The records of 
the later visitations are the fullest, but their recurrence all 
through the Middle Ages is very frequent. In 1521-22 it 
is recorded that 

In thys yere, at the Assise kept at the castle of Cambridge in 
Lent, the Justices, and al the gentlemen, Bailiffes and other, resorting 
thether, toke such an infeccion, whether it were of the savor of the 
prisoners, or of the filthe of the house, that manye gentlemen, as Sir 
Jhon Cut, Sir Giles Alington, Knightes, and many other honest 
yomen thereof dyed, and all most all whiche were there present, 
were sore sicke and narrowly escaped with their lives. 4 

The elaborate ordinances drawn up in 1575 contain strict 
provisions for the seclusion of the afflicted and the destruction 
of their goods, and for keeping the town clean. 

1 Historical MSS. Commission, united with that of S. Giles. 

6th Report, Appendix p. 299. In 2 Gasquet, 134. 

consequence of this devastation the 3 Ibid. 133. 

parish of All Saints by the Castle was 4 Cooper, Annals, I. 305. 



Also, that no manner of person inhabiting within any house 
visited hereafter with plague or pestilence, after notice and significa- 
tion given by the Vice-Chancellor and Mayor, by these words in 
writing in great letters set upon the uppermost post of his street-door 
viz., " Lord have mercy upon us," shall go abroad out of that house, 
upon pain for the first default, 20 s , and for the second default herein 
40 s , and for the third default, perpetual banishment out of the 
town.... 1 

The duties and privileges of citizenship were enjoyed by 
the limited class then known as burgesses and whom we 
should call freemen. Though in the Middle Ages this class 
was not the narrow clique forming only a small proportion of 
the populace which it became in later times, the privilege of 
freedom was confined to the well-to-do classes, and was 
practically out of the reach of their inferiors. Freedom was 
attainable by birth, by apprenticeship and by purchase. The 
eldest son could have his freedom during his father's life on 
paying a fine of 6s. 8d. At the death of the father the eldest 
son paid a fee of fixed amount, the other sons making the 
best bargain they might with the Four-and-Twenty. The 
son or apprentice of the burgess of another town could not 
have his freedom on the same terms as the son or apprentice 
of a freeman, but was obliged to make what terms he could 
with two burgesses whom the Mayor and commonalty should 
depute. 2 These two burgesses were called Godfathers. In 
the reign of Elizabeth every burgess was obliged to obtain 
for his apprentice the freedom of the town, at his own cost. 
During the Commonwealth the old name godfather was 
objected to and was abolished by the following order : 

Whereas heretofore in all eleccions of foraigne freemen, Two of 
the four and twenty have been nominated Godfathers to sett the fines 
for such fredomes; It is agreed & ordered that henceforward they 
shall in no wise be called Godfathers but Assessors of the Fine. 3 

The Mayor appears to have had the right of admitting 

1 Cooper, Annals, n. 335. 3 Order of 24th August 1649. *b. 

8 Ordinance of 1462; Ib. I. 213. in. 429. 


one man to the freedom of the town. Oliver Cromwell is 
said to have obtained the freedom in this way, and thus to 
have qualified to serve as burgess in Parliament. 1 The 
practice of making non-resident freemen was common in the 
Middle Ages, for merchants living in other towns were often 
willing to obtain trading rights and so forth by purchasing 
partial freedom. The election of freemen simply to support 
a particular parliamentary interest only freemen having 
votes appears to have begun in 1679, when twenty-two 
admissions were made. This would be a large addition to 
the then small number of freemen. A century later the 
abuse had grown, as we shall see in a subsequent chapter. 

The town reaped an important benefit from the presence 
of the University in the prohibition of all tournaments, war- 
like games, bull-baitings, and bear-baitings within or near 
the town, though it may be doubted if the advantage was 
generally appreciated by the people. Fuller's lively picture 
of the scenes witnessed on these occasions is probably a true 
one, but he can hardly be right in saying that tournaments 
were commonly kept here. King Henry III. constantly sent 
down to stop them when they were announced, and finally 
forbade them altogether within five miles of Cambridge. 2 
Edward I. did the like 3 and his wise action was probably 
followed by his successors. 

" Tournaments and tilting of the nobility and gentry 
were," says Fuller, "commonly kept at Cambridge, to the 
great annoyance of Scholars. Many sad casualties were 
caused by these meetings, though ordered with the best 
caution. Arms and legs were often broken as well as spears. 
Much lewd people waited on these assemblies, light house- 
wives as well as light horsemen repaired thereunto. Yea, 
such the clashing of swords, the rattling of arms, the sounding 
of trumpets, the neighing of horses, the shouting of men all 
day-time, with the roaring of riotous revellers all night, that 

1 See Chapter vi. 3 Ibid. I. 71. 

2 Cooper, Annals, i. 53. 


the Scholars' studies were disturbed, safety endangered, 
lodging straightened, charges enlarged, all provisions being 
unconscionably enhanced. In a word, so many war horses 
were brought thither, that Pegasus himself was likely to be 
shut out ; for where Mars keeps his term, there the Muses 
may even make their vacation." * 

In the second year of his reign, James I. forbade unprofit- 
able or idle games in Cambridge or within five miles thereof 
" whereby the younger sort are or may be drawn or provoked 
to vain expence loss of time or corruption of manners." 2 
Bull-baiting, bear-baiting, common plays, public shows, in- 
terludes, comedies and tragedies in the English tongue and 
games at loggets and nine holes were specially forbidden. 
The town made a bull-ring in the year in which this order 
was issued, as the following charges shew : " Item, for making 
a bulringe, iij s xj d . Item, for 63'' of lead & a stone to fasten yt 
in, ix s vj d . Item, for a bushell of stones to pave about yt, 4 d . 
Item, for pavinge yt, x d ." 3 It is possible that the making of 
this bull-ring induced the University authorities to petition 
the king, and that the order was a consequence of their 

That games were so frequently forbidden shews at least 
that they were constantly revived. So late as 1749 a " Great 
Muscovy Bear" was baited at the Wrestlers' Inn; "The 
whole Entertainment," it was announced, " will conclude with 
a Scene worthy Observations of the curious." 4 

The Gilds. 

We must now turn our attention to those important 
organizations, the Gilds, of one class of which we have, for- 
tunately, unusually full records. In many towns the control 
of some trades was, during the fourteenth century, delegated 

1 Fuller, 25. 3 Town Treasurer's accounts, 1604. 

2 Letter from James I. 23 July Cooper, Annals, III. n. 

1604. Cooper, Annals, III. 6. 4 Camb. Antiq. Soc. vm. 353. 


by the town authorities to chosen representatives of the 
tradesmen. For this purpose gilds were formed, or authority 
was given to existing gilds. But at Cambridge this authority 
appears to have been retained in the hands of the Four-and- 
Twenty or of the Gild Merchant. We find no mention of a 
Craft Gild with supervision over the craft, or even of one of 
those Social Gilds such as existed at Norwich for instance, 
consisting exclusively of members of one trade though 
without authority in that trade. 

Of the other class of gild, the Religious or Social Gild, 1 
partaking of the character of a Benefit Club or Friendly 
Society, Cambridge affords examples both numerous* and 
interesting. We have already given some account of the 
Gild of Thanes which existed at Cambridge before the 
Conquest. How long this continued we do not know, but 
there is no evidence for connecting it with any one of the 
later gilds of which we are now speaking. The records of 
these gilds are numerous. The most valuable of them are 
contained in a large collection of Returns made in 1389 to 
the King in Council by gilds of both sorts in all parts of 
the kingdom, giving full information about all their concerns. 3 

1 In the Middle Ages the gilds of the foundation of the gilds ; the 
now usually known as ' Religious Gilds,' manner and form of the oaths, gather- 
and which Mr Toulmin Smith (English ings, feasts, and general meetings of 

Gilds) preferred to call 'Social Gilds,' the brethren and sisteren; as to the 

that is, non-craft gilds, were called privileges, statutes and customs ; and 

simply 'gilds or brotherhoods." Indi- as to their lands, tenements, rents and 

vidual gilds were distinguished by the possessions, and goods and chattels, 
names of their patron saints, such as A selection from these Returns 

the ' Gild of S. Katherine.' The craft- forms the foundation of Mr Toulmin 

gilds are spoken of as 'Mysteries and Smith's invaluable work English Gilds, 

Crafts ' without the use of the word published by the Early English Text 

gild ; but each called itself by such a Society. We have to acknowledge 

title as ' Gild of Carpenters.' our great indebtedness to this work. 

2 A list of all the Cambridge gilds Since it was published the documents, 
of which we have found any record is now preserved in the Public Record 
given at the end of this chapter. Office, have been flattened and repaired, 

3 The gilds were to make returns and an index has been made, 
as to the manner and form and authority 


These Returns have a somewhat special interest to Cambridge 
people in particular. They were made in obedience to a 
Writ issued by a Parliament held at Cambridge in 1388. 
That Parliament, which was as remarkable for the amount of 
work it got through as for the shortness of the time for which 
it sat, we have already noticed ; it passed the Statute of 
Cambridge for the cleansing of towns. Of the Returns made 
in the following year many are now lost, but those that have 
been preserved give the most valuable information on the 
subject of gilds which we possess. 

The religious gilds connected with the churches of Cam- 
bridge are particularly interesting on account of a certain 
well-marked characteristic common to several of them, 
namely, the strong anti-clerical feeling shewn by their 
ordinances. In one case parsons are excluded altogether, 
in others they are allowed no voice in the management. 
But it is probable that this tone is due, in part at least, to 
the presence of the University, and that the ordinances in 
question are directed against clerks as members of the 
University rather than as parsons. Even during the occa- 
sional truces between the University and the burgesses, it 
might be very necessary to guard against the possibility 
of the control of a gild falling into the hands of the clerks. 
It must be remembered that the fourteenth century, during 
which most of these ordinances were drawn up, was the 
period of the greatest hostility between the town and the 
University. On the other hand, two Cambridge gilds shewed 
a very opposite spirit by uniting for the purpose of found- 
ing a college, while in the county two others, at least, 
made it an important object to assist in the repair of the 
parish church. The an ti- clerical tone of the ordinances is 
by no means to be taken as indicating a want of religious 
feeling, and the exclusion of the clergy was probably the 
exception rather than the rule. Generally all classes were 
admitted, and so also were women, or at least those whose 
husbands belonged to the gild. 


The fraternities always bore a religious dedication and 
attached themselves to a particular church, where they cele- 
brated the feast of their patron saint and kept candles burning 
before an altar, and where they said masses for the living and 
dead. The mutual help of the members both living and dead 
was their chief object, but in two or three of the Cambridge 
gilds, material aid to the living is admitted to be the first 
consideration. The fraternity made grants in money to 
members who were in poverty or sickness, they attended 
the funeral of a departed brother or sister and offered up 
prayers for the soul. The Alderman of the gild also 
acted as arbitrator in cases of dispute, and members were 
not allowed to go to law with one another till they had 
first appealed to him. The gild derived its funds from the 
regular payments of the members and from bequests. Pay- 
ments were made in money or kind, very frequently in wax 
for the lights in the church, the lights forming a heavy item 
in the expenditure. It was common for a member to leave to 
the gild, on his death, small sums for the maintenance of the 
lights, to be paid annually out of the rents of house-property. 
These charges were called "Candle-rents," and they appear to 
have led to serious trouble in later times. Their payment 
seems to have been very much begrudged, and in the riot of 
1381 the people made them one of their grievances, and a 
special cause of ill will to Corpus Christi College, which pos- 
sessed many of them, derived, no doubt from the gild of 
Corpus Christi. 

The members of each gild met together several times a 
year to elect officers, to discuss the affairs of the gild and to 
dine. These meetings were held in the house of one of the 
brothers, at an inn or some such place, or in a house set apart 
for the purpose. The Gild of S. Catharine in the Priory 
church of Barnwell had on lease of the Prior and Convent 
of that place a house in Barnwell Street called S. Katharine's 
House. This consisted of a hall, two chambers at the upper 
end of the hall with a garret over them, and at the lower end 


a kitchen and a rye chamber. Another gild had, at least 
when its statutes were drawn up, no fixed abode ; they were 
to "come togedyr, unto a certeyn place assygned." But to 
the same gild, that of S. Peter and S. Paul, one of its 
members, Mistress Annes Smyth, left " I Tabyl Cloth off 
Dyaper iij yerds and iij Quartris," and other household goods, 
so it is probable that they had at that time a common hall. 

Thirty-three such gilds are known to have existed in 
Cambridge. How many of these flourished at any one time 
we cannot say, nor how many more there may have been 
of which all record is now lost. For the whole county the 
Returns of thirty-three other gilds are preserved. This is 
probably but a small proportion of those that actually existed 
at one time and another, for the Returns of only eight of the 
thirty-three Cambridge gilds are extant. Of the county gilds, 
three were in Chesterton, seven in Ely, and six in Wisbech ; 
the rest were scattered among the villages. 

Having said thus much on the gilds in general we shall 
present the clearest idea of their objects and influence by 
giving a few particulars of some individual instances. 

The Gild of Corpus Christi in S. Benedict's Church appears 
to have been the most important, as its name is certainly the 
most famous, of the Cambridge gilds. It was perhaps founded, 
like that which bore the same dedication at York, for the pur- 
pose of conducting the procession on the feast of Corpus 
Christi. 1 But the gild shewed a truer appreciation of the 
needs of the age by founding the college which bears its 
name. For this purpose it united with another gild, that 
of S. Mary in the Church of S. Mary-by-the-Market. The 
college which they founded was called after both gilds, its full 
name being the College of Corpus Christi and the Blessed 
Virgin Mary. The brethren wisely chose as their alderman, 
Henry Duke of Lancaster, cousin of King Edward III., and 
so slcured the court influence which was necessary for the 

1 The Thursday after Trinity Sun- Pope Urban IV. about 1264. (Josse- 
day. The festival was instituted by lin, Hist. Coll. Corp. CAri., 14.) 

C. 4 


speedy execution of their object. They obtained the charter 
for their college from the King in 1352, and immediately set 
about the work of establishing it and providing it with build- 
ings. These they erected on a site immediately to the south 
of S. Benedict's Church, the presentation to which they soon 
afterwards obtained and conferred upon the college. The 
history of the college we shall give in a later chapter. The 
great Corpus Christi procession, one of the most important 
religious functions in the year, and one in which the whole 
population joined, was henceforth conducted by both the 
college and the gild. The alderman of the gild for the year 
led the way, followed by the seniors carrying silver shields, 
enamelled, bearing coats of arms and the symbols of the 
Passion. Then came the Master of the college, a canopy 
held over him, carrying the Host contained in a tabernacle 
of silver-gilt. 1 He was followed by the Vice-Chancellor, 
the Fellows and Scholars of the college and members of 
the University, by the Mayor and Town Council, and lastly 
by all the burgesses and common people. Torches were 
carried by those who took part in the ceremony, and the 
representation of Biblical scenes, either spoken or in dumb 
show, probably formed part of the procession, as they did in 
two gilds at York. We find that in 1350 William de Lenne 
(Lynn) and Isabel his wife, on their admission to the gild, 
presented half a mark towards the play of the Children of 
Israel. 2 " Thus," says Fuller, " from Benet Church, they 
advanced to the great bridge, through all the parts of the 
town, and so returned with a good appetite to the place 
where they began. Then in Corpus Christi College was a 
dinner provided them, where good stomachs meeting with 

1 Inventory made probably in the of our money. Josselin, writing in 

1 5th century, preserved in Corp. Chris. about 1570, says that the Host was 

Coll. Camb. and quoted by Mr Riley carried in a pix of silver gilt weighing 

in his Report (Historical MSS. Com- 78^ ounces, given by Sir John de?Cam- 

mission. First Report}. The value is bridge, Alderman of the gild in 1344. 

there stated to be " 20 pounds of lawful 2 Accounts of the gild, preserved 

money,' equal to several hundred pounds in Corpus Christi College. 


good cheer and welcome, no wonder if mirth followed of 
course." The great horn which was passed round at these 
feasts is still preserved in the college. 1 The ceremony was 
abolished by the Commissioners of Edward VI. in 1549, 
revived under Queen Mary, and finally abolished by Queen 
Elizabeth, not, however, without vigorous remonstrances by 
the townspeople who had come to regard the dinner as their 
right. On the last occasion on which the procession was 
made, as the Host was being borne past the Falcon Inn in the 
Petty Cury, the canopy which was held over it caught fire, 
"either," says Fuller, "by the carelessness of the torch bearers, 
or maliciously, by some covertly casting fire thereon out of 
some window, or miraculously, to shew that God would 
shortly consume such superstition." Some very interesting 
records of the gild are extant, including lists of admissions 
giving a great number of names, and some accounts. The 
latter seem to shew that the gild traded and made a profit by 
selling boars, pigs, steers, sheep, malt, bran, grains, and herbs 
from their garden. 2 

The Gild of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church of 
S. Mary-by-the-Market, with which the Gild of Corpus Christi 
had joined, was in existence in 1282. It admitted both men 
and women and did not exclude the clergy. All sorts of 
people are entered on its Bede Roll and a great variety of 
trades are mentioned. 3 

Another of the more important of the Cambridge gilds 
appears to have been that of the Holy Trinity in the Church 
of Holy Trinity, founded in I377- 4 The ordinances are 

1 Presented, probably about 1347, le taylour,. John Godsone, perhaps a 
by John Goldecorne, Alderman of the son or grandson of Benedict Godson, 
gild. It is figured in Old Cambridge Burgess in Parliament for the town in 
Plate (C. A. S.). i 2 95> 1 tabletter, le mazoun, the Par- 

2 Royal Commission on Hist. MSS. sons of S. Benedict's and S. Sepulchre, 
First Report. le cupper, le irnemonger, le sergant. 

3 Among other trades and names 4 It is endorsed " Gilda Cantebr\" 
we find the following : le chapman, le From the fact of its being called the 
harpour, le chesemonger, le spicer, le Gild of Cambridge, Mr Toulmin Smith 
scheyer, le coteler, le flaxmonger, le supposes it to have been the most im- 
reder [reeder or thatcher], le hatter, portant. 



interesting as being different in several respects from those 
of other gilds. They very strictly forbid the affairs of the 
gild being placed in the hands of parsons, " For it is neither 
becoming nor lawful that a parson should in any way mix 
himself up with secular business ; nor does it befit the good 
name or come within the calling of such men, that they 
should take on themselves offices and things of this sort." l 
Ecclesiastics were allowed to join the gild as ordinary 
members but were disqualified from office. The gild also 
agreed to appoint a chaplain " if the means of the gild 
enable it." Under the same condition there was to be a 
candle-bearer enriched with a carving of the Holy Trinity, 
on the top of which three candles were to be kept burning on 
Sundays and Feast-days. On the eve of the feast of Holy 
Trinity, the Alderman, the two stewards, the Dean, and the 
brethren were to meet at some place agreed upon, and thence 
march two and two, in their livery (if they had any) to the 
Church of Holy Trinity to hear evensong. They in like 
manner had to attend services on the Feast-day and to 
present offerings. Any one who did not attend was to pay 
two pounds of wax. 

It is impossible here to give even an abstract of the very 
full and interesting laws which the brethren of this gild drew 
up, and for which they obtained the approval of the Bishop. 
The first ordinance, De Officiariis, will give some idea of 
the objects and organization of the gild and the way in 
which its affairs were managed. 

There shall be one head of the Gild, who shall be styled 'Alder- 
man.' There shall also be two Stewards, who shall gather in and 
deal with the goods and chattels of the Gild, and shall trade with 
the same ; and they shall give an account thereof, and of all gains 
thence arising, to the Alderman and bretheren, and deliver them up 

1 "Item statuimus et ordinamus officiarium dicte Gilde, nee aliqua bona 

quod si contingat aliquem virum eccle- habeat ministranda;...cum non deceat, 

siasticum, presertim in sacris ordinibus nee liceat, clericus negociis secularibus 

constitutum, ad dictam fraternitatem se aliquatenus immisceri...." (Toulmin 

assumi, quod non preficiatur in aliquam Smith, 265.) 


as is hereinafter said. They shall take an oath of office, and more- 
over find two sureties. There shall also be a Dean of the Gild, who 
shall enter the names of new-comers ; give warning to the bretheren 
of all the times when they must meet, and make record of the 
warning; write down moneys received and fines that are due, and 
levy the latter; give out to needy bretheren their allowances, as is 
below said ; carefully see that all is rightly done on the burial of a 
brother or his wife ; and range the bretheren in becoming manner 
when they meet. a 

There were five meetings in the year : at four of these the 
ordinary affairs of the gild were considered, and each member 
paid sixpence to the common stock. At the fifth meeting, 
held soon after Trinity Sunday, accounts were audited and 
officers elected. The election was not made by the whole 
body, but by seven members selected by the retiring Alder- 
man. At the death of a brother or of his wife ' all becoming 
services' were done, and the officers of the gild were expected 
to be present. Any brother, or brother's wife who was in need 
without fault of their own, received sevenpence a week 2 and a 
gown and hood once a year, and was free of all contributions 
to the gild. These allowances were continued to the widow 
of a departed brother so long as she did not marry again. 
New members were elected by the whole body of brethren ; they 
paid an entrance-fee of thirteen and fourpence, and also six- 
pence to the Alderman and threepence to the Dean. Respect 
was to be paid to the Alderman, his ruling at meetings was to 
be obeyed, and there was to be no angry or idle talk. If the 
Alderman was aware of a quarrel between two brethren he 
was to try to bring them to peace. The Alderman had power 
to punish a disobedient brother or one who did anything hurt- 
ful to the good name of the gild. If the brother refused to 
submit he might be turned out of the gild, or, on the pre- 
sentment of the Alderman and two brethren, he might be 
dealt with by the Bishop as a perjurer and faith-breaker. 

1 Toulmin Smith, 263. value of money, this is quite a liberal 

2 Considering the change in the allowance. 


The Bishop not only approved these laws, but granted an 
Indulgence of forty days to all who should join or help the 

The other gilds founded in Cambridge in the fourteenth 
century have ordinances equally interesting and original. 
The Gild of the Annunciation was begun in order that 
" kindliness should be cherished more and more, and discord 
be driven out." The wives of brethren were admitted to the 
rights of membership, but all other women were excluded, 
and also all parsons and bakers. The Gild of the Blessed 
Virgin in the Church of S. Mary next the market (juxta 
fforunt) admits parsons and will keep a chaplain, " but it is 
to be clearly understood that, if the funds of the Gild fall 
below ten marks, the finding of a chaplain shall stop; and the 
goods of the Gild shall be then bestowed in the maintenance 
of a light and of the poor brethren. When the Gild gets 
richer, a chaplain shall be refound." 1 The Fraternity of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church of S. Botolph allowed a 
poor brother yd. a week, or, if there were two brethren in 
need, ^d. each. 

" The fulness and originality of the ordinances of the many 
gilds in Cambridge, up till the end of the fourteenth century," 
has been pointed out by Mr Toulmin Smith, who thus pro- 
ceeds, " Not less striking is the entire change in this respect 
which took place in the fifteenth century. Nowhere else in 
all England have I yet found one gild after another copying 
the ordinances of an older gild. In the fifteenth century this 
happened in Cambridge ; and with such seemingly blind 
helplessness, that ordinances, professing to be those of 
distinct gilds, and which had more than forty years' differ- 
ence between them in the dates of their foundation, are more 
identical in shape and words, so far as these could be used in 
separate bodies, than are the different versions of what are 
avowedly copies of the same Bye-laws of Tettenhall-Regis." 2 
The ordinances are, nevertheless, not without interest, and we 

1 Toulmin Smith, 271. 2 Ib. , 272. 


may, therefore, give the purport of the most important of 
them. 1 All the brethren and sisters met on the Sunday next 
after Low Sunday in their best clothes, to attend mass. There 
were also two other meetings in the year, called " morowe 
spechis" for general business, at which each paid for his 
pension twopence. Any one not present had to pay a pound 
of wax, or if coming " aftir prime be smette, he schal payne 
ij deiiar. And y e oure prime is clepyd the secounde oure 
aftyr noone, alsowel in somertyme as in wynter." The 
election of officers was in this manner. " First, y e Aldir- 
man schal clepene vpe ij. men be name. And the compenye 
schalle clepen vpe othir ij. men. And these iiij. men schul 
chesen to hem othir ij. men. And thanne these vj. men schul 
ben chargid, be the othe yat yei haue made to the Gylde 
beforne tyme yat yei schul gon and chesen an Aldirman, ij. 
Maystirs, a clerk, and a Deen, which hem thynkith, be heyr 
gud conscience that ben most able for to gouerne y e companye 
in y e yere folowyng." On the days of meeting the Alderman 
was allowed " to his drynk and for his geestys,y Galone of ale, 
and every Maystir a potell, and the clerk a potell, and y e deen 
a quart of ale." The clerk and the dean were each paid 2od. 
a year. The fifth statute ordains an entrance fee of qod. and 
is followed by a devout prayer that the payment may be made 
promptly " to the more avayle and furtheraunce of the gylde 
and to his more meede, be the grace of our lorde gode. 
Amen." Thirty masses were to be sung for the soul of a 
departed brother within ten days of his death, and all the 
gild were " to come to the place wer the deede body is, for to 
gon therwith to y e chirche honestly and with the lyghtys of 
this company, and for to ofifren for y e sowl, at the messe don 
therfore, a farthyng." The vicar of the church was to be paid 
4^. 4</. for praying for the members both living and dead. 

1 The following abstract is from the Clement in the Church of S. Clement 

ordinances of the Gild of SS. Peter and and of All Saints in the Church of All 

Paul in the Church of S. Peter by the Saints [? in Jewry] are almost identical. 
Castle, but those of the Gilds of S. 


"If any brothir or sustir of this forseyd companye fall in-to 
olde age or in-to grete pouerte, nor haue wherwith to be 
foundene nor to help hymselfe, he schal haue, euery woke, 
iiij. denar. of the goodys of the gylde, also-long as the catell 
therof is worth xl.s. or more." If there was more than one 
poor man, then the 4^. was to be divided among them. The 
ninth statute is worth quoting at length : " Also if any man 
be at heuynesse with any of his bretheryne for any maner of 
trespas, he schal not pursewen him in no maner of courte : 
but he schal come firste to the Alderman, and schewen to 
hym his greuance. And than the Alderman schal sende 
aftyr that odyr man, and knowen his offence. And than he 
schal make eyther of hem for to chesen a brothir of the 
forsayde companye, or ellys ij. bretheren, for to acorde hem 
and sett hem at rest and pees. And if these men so chosen, 
with the good mediacion of the Alderman, mowe not brynge 
hem at acorde and at reste, thane may the Alderman geuen 
hem licence for to gone to the comown law yf thei wyll. And 
who-so goth to the common lawe for any playnt or trespas, 
vn-to the tyme he hath ben at the Alderman and don as it is 
sayde befor, he schal payen to the encres of the gylde xl.d., 
withoute any grace." No member was to linger at a "comown 
drynkyng " after the Alderman had left. " And what brothir 
or sustyr, bot yf he be any offycer, entryth into y e chambyr 
ther the Ale is in, withoute Lycence of the offycers that 
occupye therin, he schall payne I : Lib : wax." Anyone who 
bewrayed the affairs of the gild " so that the compeny be 
slaunderyd or hynderyd, or have any other vyllany thereby " 
was fined 40^. The fines were paid either in money or in 
wax, generally a pound, "to y e amendment of y e lightes." 
This slight sketch must here serve for the more lively 
picture which might be drawn of the gilds of Cambridge. 
They were to come to a sudden and disastrous end with so 
much else in the sixteenth century. The gilds were a prey too 
easy to escape the all-devouring Henry VIII. They were 
included in the Act for the suppression of the Colleges and 


Chantries in 1545, and those that then escaped fell in the first 
year of Edward VI. 

Of such measures it is difficult to speak with calmness. 
The system of gilds, so vigorous and healthy, so "helpyng 
ageins ye rebelle and vnboxhum " had been invented and 
developed by the native genius of the people for organization 
and self-help, and by their love of self-government. It had 
produced in every locality and almost in every brotherhood 
some distinguishing characteristics, some special features which 
separate that particular place and fraternity from others, 
and this is very clear in the case of the Cambridge gilds. 
But apart from the local feeling which comes out almost 
as distinctly as the local colouring, there is a wider and 
deeper interest arising from the spirit displayed by the 
whole system, a system which was to revive again after 
an interval of 250 years. The same spirit runs through both 
the old development and the new. But the old gilds bring 
out more plainly one side of the national character, namely, 
a brotherly kindliness and a strong religious feeling, not 
unmixed with worldly wisdom and prudence. The spirit 
that animated the gild brethren is the same that inspired 
the final order which Hawkins issued to the captains of his 
fleet for keeping in communication : SERVE GOD DAILY, LOVE 

List of Cambridge Gilds. 

The following list gives all the Cambridge gilds of which 
we have found any record, arranged under the churches to 
which they attached themselves. The sources whence names 
have been obtained are : The Index of the Returns preserved 
in the Record Office; Mr Toulmin Smith's English Gilds; 
information kindly given by his daughter and editor, Miss Lucy 
Toulmin Smith ; the MS. collections of Baker in the Cam- 
bridge University Library and those of Bowtell in Downing 


College; Mr C. H. Cooper's Memorials and Annals; and 
Mr S. Sandar's Great S. Marys Church, published by the 
Cambridge Antiquarian Society. 

The Gild of Thanes of Cambridge ; Early Eleventh Century (see 
Chapter i.). 

In the Church of All Saints [? in the Jewry} : Gild of All Saints ; 
ordinances 1473 and 1503 ; similar to those of the Gild of SS. Peter 
and Paul; a brother in poverty allowed ^d. a week; women admitted. 

In the Church of S. Andrew the Great: Gild of S. Katharine; 
existing in 1389 and in 1500; women admitted. 

In the Church of S. Andrew the Less (Barnwell Priory] : Gild of 
S. Catharine ; existing in 1473 when they took on lease a house for 
gild-meetings. Gild of S. Mary. Gild of S. Nicholas. 

In the Church of S. Benedict : Gild of S. Augustine ; existing in 
1504 and in 1526. Gild of Corpus Christi; probably begun about 
1350; founded Corpus Christi College 1352; women admitted; 
existing in 1374. Gild of S. Katharine; existing in 1389. 

In the Church of S. Botolph : Fraternity of the Blessed Virgin 
Mary; existing in 1389 ; a brother in poverty allowed id. a week. 

In the Church of S. Clement : Gild of S. Clement ; ordinances 
made 1431 ; similar to those of Gild of SS. Peter and Paul; existing 
in 1483; a brother in poverty allowed ^d. a week ; women admitted. 
Gild of Jesus. 

In the Church of S. Edward: Gild of S. Edward. Gild of 
S. Thomas the Martyr. 

In the Church of S. Giles: Gild of S. Giles. 

In the Church of S. Mary the Great: Gild of S. Andrew; existing 
in 1459. Gild of the Annunciation; begun 1379; existing in 
1389; wives of brethren admitted; no parsons or bakers. Gild 
of S. Catharine. Gild of SS. Christopher and James. Gild of 
the Blessed Virgin Mary; existing about 1284 and in 1408; united 
with Gild of Corpus Christi to found College of Corpus Christi ; 
ordinances approved by Consistory, 1385. Fraternity of S. Mary. 
(It is often impossible to distinguish these two gilds if indeed they 
were distinct.) Gild of S. Peter Milleyne; existing in 1503 and in 
1526. Gild of S. Thomas; existing in 1503 and in 1526. Gild 
of Holy Trinity ; existing in 1389. Gild of S. Ursula; existing in 
1503 and in 1526. 

In the Church of S. Mary the Less : Gild of S. Mary. 

In the Church of S. Peter by the Castle : Gild of SS. Peter and 


Paul; ordinances 1448; similar to those of the gilds of All Saints 
and S. Clement ; a brother in poverty allowed ^d. a week ; women 

In the Church of Holy Sepulchre : Gild of S. Etheldreda. 

In the Church of Holy Trinity : Gild of the Assumption of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary; existing in 1389. Gild of S. Catharine; 
existing in 1504. Gild of S. Clement. Gild of S. George; 
existing in 1504. Gild of Holy Trinity; ordinances, 1377; 

existing 1389 ; a brother or brother's widow in poverty allowed id. a 
week; no parson to hold office. Gild of S. Ursula and Eleven 
Thousand Virgins; existing in 1504. 



Cambridge never fortified ; its military position ; consequent topographi- 
cal characteristics. The Castle, 1068. The King's Ditch, 1215 ; 
its bridges. Bridges over the river : the sheriff and the hermit. 
Hithes. Streets. Market Place. Cross. Conduit. Pillory, Stocks, 
and Ducking-stool. Lesser markets and trade quarters ; street 
names. Inns, taverns, coffee houses. Street architecture. School 
of Pythagoras. Commons. 

CAMBRIDGE has never been a fortified town. It probably 
served as little more than a base of operations in early times, 
as it certainly did at a later period ; a purpose for which it 
was well fitted by its situation. As such it has been used by 
successive commanders : by the Conqueror against the uncon- 
quered fen-men; by Henry III. in his fruitless attempts to 
reduce his enemies ; by Northumberland in his plot for 
placing Lady Jane Grey on the Throne ; and by Cromwell as 
a rendezvous for the Eastern Counties army. But it seems 
never to have been worth a serious attack or defence, except 
as an outpost. These facts it is necessary to bear in mind, 
for they explain much of the general topographical character 
of the town. The place was never packed closely within 
walls in the usual medieval fashion. Its parishes stretched 
across the river and along the roads which led out of the 
town, their bounds being evidently determined by the con- 
venience of including the houses which fringed the road and 
not by circumscribing fortifications. 

A castle was indeed built by the Conqueror on the site of 


the earlier fortifications, and King John made a ditch round 
the town. But the Castle is absolutely without history, and 
at least as early as the beginning of the fourteenth century 
it was, like some other royal castles, used as a prison for 
common criminals. 1 

The ditch made by King John in 1215 was strengthened 
by King Henry III., who intended to build a wall in 
addition. The King's Ditch as it was always called can 
never have been any defence to the town, except perhaps 
against casual marauders, though it was for centuries a 
cause of annoyance and sickness to the inhabitants by 
serving as a harbour of filth. Branching out from the river 
at the King's and Bishop's mills, it followed Mill Lane and 
Pembroke Street (map, end of vol.), crossed the area now 
occupied by the Science Schools, ran down S. Tibb's Row, 
passed between the present Post Office and S. Andrew's 
Church, down Hobson Street, across the ground afterwards 
given to the Franciscan Friars, and now the site of Sidney 
Sussex College, down Garlic Fair Lane, now Park Street, 
and thence to the river which it re-joined just above the 
Common now called Jesus Green at a point nearly opposite 
to the gable of the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College. 
A small part of the town on the further side of the bridge 
appears to have been similarly enclosed. 2 The ditch was 
crossed by bridges on the lines of the principal roads. One 
of these, built of stone, still remains under the road now 
called Jesus Lane but formerly Nuns' Lane. There appears 
to have been a drawbridge at the end of Sussex Street 3 and 
an iron gate on the bridge beyond the Great Bridge. 4 

1 From the time of Edward III. 3 Lease of 22 Hen. VI. in the 
onwards it was used as a quarry by the Muniment Room of Jesus College (E. 
royal founders of more than one col- 15 a). 

lege. In 1634 only the gatehouse 4 Lyne's Map, 1574. This map 

remained. shews the ditch beyond the river al- 

2 The passage of the river was also ready out of use and that on the east 
protected by a chain drawn across it at side crossed by numerous small bridges. 
the Great Bridge. Cooper, Annals The town receives rent for one of 
II. 82. these in 1494. 


The river was spanned by two bridges in the middle ages, 
namely, the Great Bridge at the Castle end and the Small 
Bridges at Newnham. The bridges were in the hands of the 
king. His sheriff had to maintain the Great Bridge out of 
charges upon certain lands in the county. In the time of 
Edward I. the burgesses complained that the bridge was 
ruinous and impassable. The moneys levied by the sheriff 
for its repair he had kept for his private use ; he had 
provided a barge to ferry the people across the river, the tolls 
of which barge went into his own pocket ; while the keeper 
of the sheriff's prison took away by night the planks 
provided for the repairs of the bridge, in order to delay the 
work and so augment the sheriff's profits. 1 

The road to Newnham and Barton crossed two branches 
of the river, hence there were two small bridges. Their 
repair and the mending of the road to Barton was committed 
to a hermit who lived hard by ; for these services he was 
allowed to take toll on certain articles brought into the town 
for sale. 2 A chapel stood on or near the bridge at the end 
of the fourteenth century. 

Between the two bridges were situated the principal 
hithes : Corn Hithe, Flax Hithe, Garlic Hithe, Salt Hithe, 
Dame Nichol's Hithe. The common hithe immediately 
below the Great Bridge still continues in use. Numerous 
narrow lanes led down from the High Street to the quays. 

The town was intersected by three main streets. From 
the Great Bridge ran Bridge Street, called further on in 
its course Conduit Street but now Sidney Street, to the 
Barnwell Gate opposite to the Post Office where it crossed 

1 Hundred Rolls (1278). In 1494 Garret Hostel Bridge was rebuilt of 

the Town Treasurers receive rent for a iron in 1837. 

house built upon the bridge. The 2 John Jaye was the hermit in 1399. 

bridge was of timber till 1754, when it One Thomas Kendall had succeeded 

was rebuilt in stone by Essex. The him in 1406 (Cooper, Annals). This 

present iron structure by Arthur Brown bridge was of timber till 1841 (see 

dates from 1823 (Ancient Cambridge- plate), when the present iron bridge 

shire, C.A.S. Cooper, Annals). superseded it (Annals). 


the King's Ditch. Thence it was called Preachers' Street. 
From this street at a point opposite the Round Church, there 
branched the High Street, now Trinity Street and King's 
Parade, leading to Trumpington Gate. Parallel to this and 
between it and the river was ' Milne ' Street, leading from the 
Mills at the south end of the town, and continuing north- 
wards to the point where now stands the sundial in the great 
court of Trinity College ; there it joined a cross street which 
conducted to the High Street. In Mill Street stood most 
of the colleges. Parts of it still exist under the names 
' Queens' Lane ' and ' Trinity Hall Lane,' but large sections 
of it were absorbed on the formation of the sites of King's 
and Trinity Colleges, 1 when some smaller streets and lanes 
were also closed. The closing of these lanes leading down 
to the river, though it was always done by arrangement with 
the Town Council and for agreed compensation, was a source 
of trouble between the townsfolk and the University. 

The Market Place was both geographically and politically 
the heart of the medieval town (map, end of vol., and fig. 8, 
p. 65). It contained all the principal buildings, the Cross, 
the Tolbooth or Guildhall, the prison, the fountain, and also 
the stocks and the pillory. Looking on to it or close by 
were the principal inns, and the old names of the streets 
shew that the principal trades clustered round it. 

The old Market Place was very unlike the large square 
with which we are now familiar. It was an L-shaped area, 
the two arms of which occupied the east and south sides of 
the present square, and this form it preserved till 1849. The 
north-west part of the present Market Place was covered 
with houses crowded together in great confusion, extending 
into St Mary's Churchyard and built up against the walls of 
the church itself (fig. 14, p. 82). This mass of dwellings 
was divided by a very narrow alley running north and south, 
called Smiths' Row, afterwards Well Lane, or Pump Lane, 

1 The northern part, called Le Foule line with the rest of the street. 
Lane, was not quite in a continuous 



from the common pump which stood in the middle of it, and 
at a later time known as Warwick Street. 1 

The open Market Place had assumed the L shape 
described above at an early period. Originally there was a 
third and southern portion, so that the area then consisted of 
three irregular quadrangles. The southern of these has been 
occupied, since the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, by per- 
manent stalls or shambles, which, in 1747, gave way to the 
Shire House which now forms the front part of the Guildhall. 
The Shire House, however, was built upon open arches so 
that the ground floor could be let out for market stalls, as it 
continued to be till near the middle of the present century. 
The Town Hall stood on the south side of this southern part 
of the Market Place. By the erection of the stalls and still 
more by the building of the Shire House in front of it, it was 
thrust into the background, as it were, and lost the con- 
spicuous place it formerly held. By the concession of the 
Shire House to the town and its conversion to municipal 
purposes, the Guildhall was once more brought to the front. 
Adjoining the Tolbooth was the Town Gaol. The history of 
these buildings will be dealt with more fully in another chapter. 

The Cross was raised on a flight of stone steps and was 
protected by a lead-covered roof supported 
on columns, probably of wood. 2 The 
whole erection is shewn very clearly, and 
probably with some degree of accuracy, in 
Lyne's map of the town made in 1574. 
This is particularly fortunate as the pro- 
tecting canopy was destroyed in 1587. In II , FIG> 9 - 


the Treasurers' accounts for that year we 

1 Eight of these houses were de- ,50,000 (Cooper, Memorials, in. 314). 
stroyed by fire on Sept. 16, 1849. An 2 ^ n tne Town Treasurers' accounts 

Act was obtained in the following year for 1564, the following payments occur: 

by which the Corporation acquired the " Item, to y e Painter for payntinge y e 

sites of the destroyed houses and all market Crosse, xv 1 . iiij d . Item, paid 

the adjoining houses. The latter were to y e plomer for mending y e leads about 

then destroyed and the Market Place y e crosse, iiij*." In 1569 similar 

laid out in its present form in 1855. charges are made. 
The total cost of this improvement was 


find in the receipts "Item, of Thomas Metcalf for y e old wood 
of the crosse xx s "; and among the payments "Item, for 
takinge y e leade of y e crosse and for carryinge the same, and 
for watchinge it the night before it was taken downe, & for 
takinge downe the tymber, iij s . iiij d ." l These entries of course 
refer only to the canopy, the cross being left intact. In 1639 
it was repaired at a cost of 5. 14^. 4^. Nine years later the 
Treasurers acknowledge the receipt of six shillings "for A 
stone parte of y e Crosse sold to M r Nicholson." 2 Mr Nicholson 
probably bought the head of the cross. The base and shaft 
were still standing at the time of the Restoration, when 
the Vice-Chancellor, attended by the whole University, 
proclaimed Charles the Second as King. 

Upon Thursday, being the loth of May, 1660, the Vice- 
chancellor sent to all the Heads or in their absence the Presidents 
to come to the Schooles at one of the clock, & bring all their 
Fellows & Scholars in their Formalitys, which done accordingly, the 
Vichechancellor & all the Doctors in Scarlet Gowns the Regents 
and Non Regents & Bacchellors in their hoods turned & all the 
Schollars in Capps went with lowd Musick before them to the 
Crosse on the Market Hill. The Vicechancellor Beadles & as many 
D re as could stood upon the severall Seats of the Crosse, & the 
School Keeper standing near them made 3 O yeis. The Vicechan- 
cellor dictated to the Beadle who proclaymed the same with an 
audible voice. 3 

In 1664 the Cross was rebuilt. What was the character 
of the design we do not know, but it was described a century 
later as "an handsome square stone pillar of the lonick 
Order ; on the top of which is an Orb and cross gilt." 4 

The Cross was destroyed in 1786 when the Town Council 
"ordered that the Market Cross be removed to some more 
convenient place," and appointed a committee to consider of 
a more proper place " if they shall think a Cross necessary." s 
Apparently they did not think a cross necessary. 

1 Cooper, Annals, II. 450. and Cooper, Annals. 

2 Ib. in. 424. 4 Cantabrigia Depicta, 10 (1763). 

3 MS Baker xxxiii, 337; xlii, 229; 5 Cooper, Annals, IV. 419. 



It would seem that there was a fountain in the Market 
Place in early times ; it is mentioned in 1423.' In 1429 
the Four-and-Twenty made an ordinance to the following 
effect : 

That the fountain in the market place should be cleansed of 
dirt ; and that if any one cast dirt or filth into the same, he should 
pay 6j. 8d. to the mayor and bailiffs, to their proper use ; or if he 
had not wherewithal to pay that sum, he should be imprisoned for 
seven days. 2 

We have no indication of the character of this fountain, 
but it was probably supplied by a well, as it appears that 
water was not brought from a distance by a conduit till the 
seventeenth century. In 1567 the Four-and-Twenty voted 
2os. to George Addam, burgess, towards making a fountain 
in the market in such place as the Mayor should deem fit ; 
but no further mention of the proposed fountain occurs.* 
Pumps for the use of the public stood in various parts of the 
town ; the only water brought from a distance was that 
used by the Franciscan Friars. 4 Possibly a part of this 
supply was diverted into a fountain for the public use, for 
Sidney Street in which the Franciscans' house stood was 
formerly called Conduit Street. On the suppression of the 
house and the foundation of Trinity College, the supply was 
intercepted by the latter foundation, and now supplies the 
fountain in the middle of the Great Court. 

In 1574 Dr Perne, Dean of Ely and Master of Peterhouse, 
had proposed to Lord Burghley 5 that water should be brought 
by a conduit which should intercept at Trumpington Ford 
an already existing stream running from the springs at Nine 
Wells in the parish of Great Shelford into the river. 

1 Cooper, Memorials, in. 315. on the subject of the plague, which was 

2 Cooper, Annals, I. 180. at that time in the town. "Our synnes 

3 Ib. n. 231. is the principall cause," says he. " The 

4 The site of their house is now other cause as I conjecture, is the cor- 
occupied by Sidney Sussex College. ruption of the King's dytch." (Annals,. 

5 Lord Treasurer and Chancellor of n. 322.) 
the University. Dr Perne is writing 


This suggestion was adopted in 1610,* when the work was 
carried out according to a scheme by Edward Wright, M.A., 
of Gonville and Caius College. Wright was the best mathe- 
matician of his day and planned also the New River. 8 
The work was done at the joint expense of the Town 
and University. Its object was the "cleansing easement 
benefit and commodity of divers and sundry drains and 
watercourses belonging to divers and sundry colleges halls 
and houses of students within the University, as also for the 
cleansing and keeping sweet one common drain or ditch 
commonly called King's ditch, and for the avoiding the 
annoyance infection and contagion ordinarily arising through 
the uncleanness and annoyance thereof." 3 By a system of 
sluices the numerous watercourses and ditches which then 
existed in connection with the King's Ditch could be periodi- 
cally flushed. Some of the water was conveyed in pipes to a 
fountain in the Market Place (Plate, and fig. 14, p. 82). 
This was built, also by the University and Corporation, in 
1614. An inscription on the conduit states that it was built 
at the sole charge of Thomas Hobson the famous carrier, but 
this is certainly incorrect. It was intended to raise the 
necessary amount by voluntary subscriptions, but it appears 
that when the work was perfected the ' Undertakers ' had 
considerable difficulty in obtaining repayment of the moneys 
they had disbursed, and that ;ioo was still owing to them in 
1620. When, in 1856, the Market Place was brought to its 
present form the old conduit ceased to occupy the central 
position it had formerly held ; it stood almost in the corner 
of the new Market Place. It was removed in 1855 to the 

1 It was probably not long after- man beyond all exception for integrity 

wards that the branch was made from of life, an excellent Mathematician, one 

the Spittle-house, on or near the site that brought the water from the Spittle- 

of the present Hospital, to Emmanuel house to Emmanuel and thence to 

and Christ's Colleges by Mr Frost, Christ's Colledge" (At well, The Faith- 

"then Manciple of Emmanuel Col- f u ll Surveyour, 81). 

ledge in Cambridge, since Sword-bearer 2 Cambridge Portfolio, 312. 

to the Lord Maior, and since that a s Cooper, Annals, III. 37. 
Secretary to the Councel of State, a 


corner of Trumpington Road and Lensfield Road ; at the 
same time a new fountain designed by Mr Gordon M. Hills, 
Architect, was built in the centre of the Market Place. 

Having mentioned the principal features of the Market 
Place we must say something of the arrangement of the 
Market itself and of the distribution of the different trades in 
the streets which surrounded it. Early in the present century 
the north end of the Market Place was the Corn Market, and 
the south-west part, near S. Mary's Passage, was called the 
Garden Market ; this was probably the old arrangement 
(fig. 14, p. 82). In addition to these there were several 
lesser markets in the surrounding streets. "Butcher Row" 
or " the Butchery " may probably be identified with Wheeler 
Street, but at a later time it was transferred to Guildhall 
Street. 1 We have seen that the space under the old Shire 
House was let to butchers for their stalls and that this was a 
continuation of ancient usage. The low building at the 
corner of Petty Cury and Guildhall Street was till recently 
known as the Shambles and was occupied on market days 
by about a dozen butcher's stalls. The oat market and the 
fish market were on Peas Hill, the fish stalls being under 
penthouse roofs, and the milk market was hard by. Of all 
these old names the only one which has been preserved is 
" Butter Row," by which the passage on two sides of the old 
Shire House was known. The butter stalls probably occupied 
the back portion of the space under the Shire House. The 
old name and the passage itself will shortly disappear. 

We can trace some of the old trade quarters by the names 
of the streets. These have been, in almost every case, changed 
to colourless modern names and can only be made out now 
from old maps and leases. We still have Butter Row and 

1 In the rsth century the Butchery Guildhall Street was called Butcher 

is described as being in S. Edward's Row and Wheeler Street " Short But- 

Parish (Lease, Jesus Coll.); Wheeler cher Row" (Lysons). The name 

Street answers to this description but Guildhall Street was adopted between 

Guildhall Street does not. In 1808 1869 and 1874. 


Petty Cury or the 'little cookery,' 'Parva Cokeria' or 
' Petite-curye ' as it was called in the time of Edward III., 1 
with its hostels and cook-shops. Shoemaker Row or Cord- 
wainer Street has become Market Street ; S. Mary's Gate 
was formerly Sheerers' Row or Cutlers' Row, being occupied 
by the shearmen or dressers of cloth. 2 Potters' Row ran 
northwards out of Sheerers' Row ; Smiths' Row, nearly 
opposite to it, ran southwards past the end of S. Mary's 
Church and afterwards was called Pump Lane or Warwick 
Street. The situation of ' Comerslane,' the wool-combers' 
lane, we have not yet discovered ; Pulterie Row was juxta 
forum in the I2th of Richard II.; 'the goldsmiths' corner' 
was in S. Botolph's Parish. In Conduit Street opposite "le 
Conduitte," at the end of the thirteenth century, Geoffry le 
Turner had a house between Roger le Turner and Fulco le 
Turner ; not far from them, in Feleper Street either Sussex 
Street or King Street lived William Filtarius, Aunger le 
Feleper, and so on. 

Some streets were named after well-known buildings which 
were situated in them, such as Preachers' Street in which 
stood the house of the Dominicans or Friars Preachers, Milne 
Street leading to the mills, Kings Childer's Lane, Monks' 
Place and others. But the most striking characteristics of 
the local names are the preponderance of personal names and 
the frequency with which street names change. For instance, 
Thompson's Lane, Aungery's Lane from Mr Robert Aunger, 
Wheeler Street from Wheeler the basket-maker who lived 
there in the first half of the present century, and many others 
now forgotten. 

Cambridge seems to have been well supplied with good 
inns, in some measure, probably, owing to the fairs and 
especially to that at Stourbridge. These inns presented a 
comparatively narrow front towards the street. This front 

1 Cooper, Annals, i. 273. occupation is well illustrated in a piece 

2 They took the cloth from the of carving on a miserere from Bramp- 
weavers in a rough state and trimmed ton Church, Hunts, now in the Museum 
the nap to an even surface. This of Archaeology and of Ethnology. 


contained a large gateway which gave access to a long and 
narrow court yard ; round the yard ran open galleries from 
which the principal rooms were entered, the ground floor 
being devoted to menial offices. At the further end of the 
court another archway led through into a second yard 
containing the stables. This yard straggled irregularly back 
for some distance to join a street in the rear. An exit was 
thus provided for waggons which could not possibly have 
turned in the confined yard. In this way some inn yards 
have gradually become public thoroughfares and others may 
be seen at various stages of transition, while some have been 
closed and kept private. Rose Crescent marks the site of 
the Rose and Crown yard which had its front gates in the 
Market Place and a long and very irregular yard running 
back to Trinity Street. That part of the building which 
bridged over the entry to the yard has been destroyed, but a 
part of the old inn is probably preserved in the house on the 
west side of the passage to which the pretty red brick front 
has been added. The east part has been rebuilt, but the 
balcony of the present house occupied by Messrs Reed, 
silversmiths, is the old balcony of the inn, from which at 
Elections candidates addressed their constituents. 1 Next 
door but one to this large inn was the Angel, a house, ap- 
parently, of almost equal importance. The yard connected 
Cordwainer Street with Green Street, and is still private. A 
little further down Cordwainer Street was the Black Bear, 
the yard of which is preserved in Market Passage. On the 
other side of the way was the Crane, the last fragment of 
which was destroyed about 1885. 

Another group of important inns was situated in Petty 
Cury. Close to the Barnwell Gate was the Wrestlers, a 
very picturesque house of the early part of the seventeenth 
century, recently destroyed (fig. 10, p. 73). Further up the 
street were the Falcon and the Lion. The latter is almost 
the only hostelry in the town, still in use as such, which 

1 White, The Cambridge Visitors' 1 Guide, 218. 



preserves its primitive plan. The buildings, however, though 
probably in part medieval, have been cased with brick in 
recent times. The Falcon has now ceased to be used as an 

inn, but it is a very good example of the old arrangement 
(fig. II, p. 75). Till quite recently the court was entirely 


surrounded by the timber buildings of the fifteenth or 
sixteenth centuries, and the west and south sides still stand 
almost unaltered. The buildings are in three floors, the two 
upper of which have open galleries, projecting slightly over 
the ground storey. The galleries probably ran all round 
the court originally, and gave accommodation to the Quality 
when a dramatic performance was being given in the inn 
yard ; their inferiors meanwhile stood about in the yard or 
pit, in the centre of which the stage was erected. The 
galleries on the east side appear to have been destroyed in 
the last century to form a large reception room, the three 
round-headed windows of which appear in our illustration 
(fig. 11). Similar reception rooms are found "at the Lion 
and also at the Three Tims. The latter house stood at 
the corner of the Market and S. Edward's Passage, and 
has now been divided up into two dwelling-houses, the 
larger of which has the elegant brick front looking towards 
the Cury ; " To the Three Tuns, where we drank pretty hard 
and many healths to the King &c.," says Pepys. 1 

Another large inn was the Eagle and CJiild, now the 
Eagle, Bene't Street. This house appears to have survived 
as a posting establishment into the days of stage coaches 
when many of the other old inns had become private houses. 
It was here that, in the good old days, the famous Rutland 
Club, of which we shall have to speak in a later chapter, 
was wont to meet ; it is called The Post Office in maps of 
the early part of the present century ; the greater part is 
now a private house. The Dolphin, at the Bridge Street 
end of All Saints' Passage, appears to have been a place of 
importance. Thomas Cranmer lived here for some time with 
his wife, the niece of the landlady, " Black Joan of the 
Dolphin" as she is said to have been called. 2 The Cardinal's 
Cap was a large inn on the site of which the Pitt Press now 
stands, and TJie Sun and The Blue Boar were opposite 

1 Pepys 1 Diary, 25 Feb. 1660. 2 Athenac Cantabrigienses, I. 145. 



Trinity College. Some remains of The White Horse, 
which stood between S. Catharine's College and old King's 

Lane, 1 are preserved in the Archaeological Museum. 2 Some 

1 The lane formerly lay further to 2 And illustrated in the Cambridge 

the north. Portfolio.